Project Gutenberg's Chapters on Jewish Literature, by Israel Abrahams
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: Chapters on Jewish Literature
Author: Israel Abrahams
Release Date: October 6, 2004 [EBook #13678]
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CHAPTERS ON JEWISH LITERATURE ***
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, J. Howse and the Online Distributed
CHAPTERS ON JEWISH LITERATURE
ISRAEL ABRAHAMS, M.A.
_Author of "Jewish Life in the Middle Ages"_
THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY OF AMERICA
COPYRIGHT, 1899, BY
THE JEWISH PUBLICATION SOCIETY OF AMERICA
The Lord Baltimore Press
BALTIMORE, MD., U.S.A.
These twenty-five short chapters on Jewish Literature open with the fall
of Jerusalem in the year 70 of the current era, and end with the death
of Moses Mendelssohn in 1786. Thus the period covered extends over more
than seventeen centuries. Yet, long as this period is, it is too brief.
To do justice to the literature of Judaism even in outline, it is
clearly necessary to include the Bible, the Apocrypha, and the writings
of Alexandrian Jews, such as Philo. Only by such an inclusion can the
genius of the Hebrew people be traced from its early manifestations
through its inspired prime to its brilliant after-glow in the centuries
with which this little volume deals.
One special reason has induced me to limit this book to the scope
indicated above. The Bible has been treated in England and America in a
variety of excellent text-books written by and for Jews and Jewesses. It
seemed to me very doubtful whether the time is, or ever will be, ripe
for dealing with the Scriptures from the purely literary stand-point in
teaching young students. But this is the stand-point of this volume.
Thus I have refrained from including the Bible, because, on the one
hand, I felt that I could not deal with it as I have tried to deal with
the rest of Hebrew literature, and because, on the other hand, there was
no necessity for me to attempt to add to the books already in use. The
sections to which I have restricted myself are only rarely taught to
young students in a consecutive manner, except in so far as they fall
within the range of lessons on Jewish History. It was strongly urged on
me by a friend of great experience and knowledge, that a small text-book
on later Jewish Literature was likely to be found useful both for home
and school use. Such a book might encourage the elementary study of
Jewish literature in a wider circle than has hitherto been reached.
Hence this book has been compiled with the definite aim of providing an
elementary manual. It will be seen that both in the inclusions and
exclusions the author has followed a line of his own, but he lays no
claim to originality. The book is simply designed as a manual for those
who may wish to master some of the leading characteristics of the
subject, without burdening themselves with too many details and dates.
This consideration has in part determined also the method of the book.
In presenting an outline of Jewish literature three plans are possible.
One can divide the subject according to _Periods_. Starting with the
Rabbinic Age and closing with the activity of the earlier Gaonim, or
Persian Rabbis, the First Period would carry us to the eighth or the
ninth century. A well-marked Second Period is that of the Arabic-Spanish
writers, a period which would extend from the ninth to the fifteenth
century. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century forms a Third
Period with distinct characteristics. Finally, the career of Mendelssohn
marks the definite beginning of the Modern Period. Such a grouping of
the facts presents many advantages, but it somewhat obscures the varying
conditions prevalent at one and the same time in different countries
where the Jews were settled. Hence some writers have preferred to
arrange the material under the different _untries_. It is quite
possible to draw a map of the world's civilization by merely marking the
successive places in which Jewish literature has fixed its
head-quarters. But, on the other hand, such a method of classification
has the disadvantage that it leads to much overlapping. For long
intervals together, it is impossible to separate Italy from Spain,
France from Germany, Persia from Egypt, Constantinople from Amsterdam.
This has induced other writers to propose a third method and to trace
_Influences_, to indicate that, whereas Rabbinism may be termed the
native product of the Jewish genius, the scientific, poetical, and
philosophical tendencies of Jewish writers in the Middle Ages were due
to the interaction of external and internal forces. Further, in this
arrangement, the Ghetto period would have a place assigned to it as
such, for it would again mark the almost complete sway of purely Jewish
forces in Jewish literature. Adopting this classification, we should
have a wave of Jewish impulse, swollen by the accretion of foreign
waters, once more breaking on a Jewish strand, with its contents in
something like the same condition in which they left the original
spring. All these three methods are true, and this has impelled me to
refuse to follow any one of them to the exclusion of the other two. I
have tried to trace _influences_, to observe _periods_, to distinguish
_countries_. I have also tried to derive color and vividness by
selecting prominent personalities round which to group whole cycles of
facts. Thus, some of the chapters bear the names of famous men, others
are entitled from periods, others from countries, and yet others are
named from the general currents of European thought. In all this my aim
has been very modest. I have done little in the way of literary
criticism, but I felt that a dry collection of names and dates was the
very thing I had to avoid. I need not say that I have done my best to
ensure accuracy in my statements by referring to the best authorities
known to me on each division of the subject. To name the works to which
I am indebted would need a list of many of the best-known products of
recent Continental and American scholarship. At the end of every
chapter I have, however, given references to some English works and
essays. Graetz is cited in the English translation published by the
Jewish Publication Society of America. The figures in brackets refer to
the edition published in London. The American and the English editions
of S. Schechter's "Studies in Judaism" are similarly referred to.
Of one thing I am confident. No presentation of the facts, however bald
and inadequate it be, can obscure the truth that this little book deals
with a great and an inspiring literature. It is possible to question
whether the books of great Jews always belonged to the great books of
the world. There may have been, and there were, greater legalists than
Rashi, greater poets than Jehuda Halevi, greater philosophers than
Maimonides, greater moralists than Bachya. But there has been no greater
literature than that which these and numerous other Jews represent.
Rabbinism was a sequel to the Bible, and if like all sequels it was
unequal to its original, it nevertheless shared its greatness. The works
of all Jews up to the modern period were the sequel to this sequel.
Through them all may be detected the unifying principle that literature
in its truest sense includes life itself; that intellect is the handmaid
to conscience; and that the best books are those which best teach men
how to live. This underlying unity gave more harmony to Jewish
literature than is possessed by many literatures more distinctively
national. The maxim, "Righteousness delivers from death," applies to
books as well as to men. A literature whose consistent theme is
Righteousness is immortal. On the very day on which Jerusalem fell, this
theory of the interconnection between literature and life became the
fixed principle of Jewish thought, and it ceased to hold undisputed sway
only in the age of Mendelssohn. It was in the "Vineyard" of Jamnia that
the theory received its firm foundation. A starting-point for this
volume will therefore be sought in the meeting-place in which the
Rabbis, exiled from the Holy City, found a new fatherland in the Book of
I THE "VINEYARD" AT JAMNIA 19
Schools at Jamnia, Lydda, Usha, and Sepphoris.--The
Tannaim compile the Mishnah.--Jochanan, Akiba, Meir,
II FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS AND THE JEWISH SIBYL 33
III THE TALMUD 43
The Amoraim compile the Palestinian Talmud and the
Babylonian Talmud.--Representative Amoraim:
I (220-280) Palestine--Jochanan, Simon,
Joshua, Simlai; Babylonia--Rab and Samuel.
II (280-320) Palestine--Ami, Assi, Abbahu,
Chiya; Babylonia--Huna and Zeira.
III (320-380) Babylonia--Rabba, Abayi, Rava.
IV (380-430) Babylonia--Ashi (first compilation
of the Babylonian Talmud).
V and VI (430-500) Babylonia--Rabina
(completion of the Babylonian Talmud).
IV THE MIDRASH AND ITS POETRY 55
Mechilta, Sifra, Sifre, Pesikta, Tanchuma,
Midrash Rabbah, Yalkut.--Proverbs.--Parables.--Fables.
V THE LETTERS OF THE GAONIM 68
Achai, Amram, Zemach, Saadiah, Sherira, Samuel, Hai.
VI THE KARAITIC LITERATURE 75
Anan, Nahavendi, Abul-Faraj, Salman, Sahal, al-Bazir,
Hassan, Japhet, Kirkisani, Judah Hadassi, Isaac Troki.
VII THE NEW-HEBREW PIYUT 83
Kalirian and Spanish Piyutim (Poems).--Jannai.--Kalir.
VIII SAADIAH OF FAYUM 91
Translation of the Bible into Arabic.--Foundation of
a Jewish Philosophy of Religion.
IX DAWN OF THE SPANISH ERA 99
Chasdai Ibn Shaprut.--Menachem and Dunash, Chayuj
and Janach.--Samuel the Nagid.
X THE SPANISH-JEWISH POETS (I) 107
Solomon Ibn Gebirol.--"The Royal Crown."--Moses
Ibn Ezra.--Abraham Ibn Ezra.--The Biblical
Commentaries of Ibn Ezra and the Kimchis.
XI RASHI AND ALFASSI 119
Nathan of Rome.--Alfassi.--Rashi.--Rashbam.
XII THE SPANISH-JEWISH POETS (II) 126
XIII MOSES MAIMONIDES 134
Maimon, Rambam--R. Moses, the son of Maimon,
Maimonides.--His Yad Hachazaka and Moreh
XIV THE DIFFUSION OF SCIENCE 144
ProvenÁal Translators.--The Ibn Tibbons.--Italian
XV THE DIFFUSION OF FOLK-TALES 153
Barlaam and Joshaphat.--The Fables of Bidpai.--Abraham
Ibn Chisdai.--Berachya ha-Nakdan.--Joseph Zabara.
XVI MOSES NACHMANIDES 160
French and Spanish Talmudists.--The Tossafists,
Asher of Speyer, Tam, Isaac of Dompaire, Baruch
of Ratisbon, Perez of Corbeil.--Nachmanides'
Commentary on the Pentateuch.--Public controversies
between Jews and Christians.
XVII THE ZOHAR AND LATER MYSTICISM 169
Kabbala.--The Bahir.--Abulafia.--Moses of Leon.--The
Zohar.--Isaac Lurya.--Isaiah Hurwitz.--Christian
XVIII ITALIAN JEWISH POETRY 178
Immanuel and Dante.--The Machberoth.--Judah
Romano.--Kalonymos.--The Eben Bochan.--Moses
XIX ETHICAL LITERATURE 189
Bachya Ibn Pekuda.--Choboth ha-Lebaboth.--Sefer
Bechinath Olam.--Isaac Aboab's Menorath ha-Maor.--Ibn
Chabib's "Eye of Jacob."--Zevaoth, or Ethical
Wills.--Joseph Ibn Caspi.--Solomon Alami.
XX TRAVELLERS' TALES 200
Eldad the Danite.--Benjamin of Tudela.--Petachiah
of Ratisbon.--Esthori Parchi.--Abraham
Farissol.--David Reubeni and Molcho.--Antonio de
Montesinos and Manasseh ben Israel.--Tobiah
XXI HISTORIANS AND CHRONICLERS 211
Order of the Tannaim and Amoraim.--Achimaaz.--Abraham
Ibn Daud.--Josippon.--Historical Elegies, or
Selichoth.--Memorial Books.--Abraham Zacuto.--Elijah
Kapsali.--Usque.--Ibn Verga.--Joseph Cohen.--David
Gans.--Gedaliah Ibn Yachya.--Azariah di Rossi.
XXII ISAAC ABARBANEL 225
Abarbanel's Philosophy and Biblical
Commentaries.--Elias Levita.--ZeŽna u-ReŽna.--Moses
XXIII THE SHULCHAN ARUCH 232
Asheri's Arba Turim.--Chiddushim and
Teshuboth.--Solomon ben Adereth.--Meir of
Rothenburg.--Sheshet and Duran.--Moses and Judah
Minz.--Jacob Weil, Israel Isserlein, Maharil.--David
Abi Zimra.--Joseph Karo.--Jair Bacharach.--Chacham
Zevi.--Jacob Emden.--Ezekiel Landau.
XXIV AMSTERDAM IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY 243
Manasseh ben Israel.--Baruch Spinoza.--The Drama
in Hebrew.--Moses Zacut, Joseph Felix Penso, Moses
XXV MOSES MENDELSSOHN 253
Mendelssohn's German Translation of the
Bible.--Phśdo.--Jerusalem.--Lessing's Nathan the
CHAPTERS ON JEWISH LITERATURE
THE "VINEYARD" AT JAMNIA
Schools at Jamnia, Lydda, Usha, and Sepphoris.--The Tannaim
compile the Mishnah.--Jochanan, Akiba, Meir, Judah.--Aquila.
The story of Jewish literature, after the destruction of the Temple at
Jerusalem in the year 70 of the Christian era, centres round the city of
Jamnia. Jamnia, or Jabneh, lay near the sea, beautifully situated on the
slopes of a gentle hill in the lowlands, about twenty-eight miles from
the capital. When Vespasian was advancing to the siege of Jerusalem, he
occupied Jamnia, and thither the Jewish Synhedrion, or Great Council,
transferred itself when Jerusalem fell. A college existed there
already, but Jamnia then became the head-quarters of Jewish learning,
and retained that position till the year 135. At that date the learned
circle moved further north, to Galilee, and, besides the famous school
at Lydda in Judea, others were founded in Tiberias, Usha, and Sepphoris.
The real founder of the College at Jamnia was Jochanan, the son of
Zakkai, called "the father of wisdom." Like the Greek philosophers who
taught their pupils in the gardens of the "Academy" at Athens, the
Rabbis may have lectured to their students in a "Vineyard" at Jamnia.
Possibly the term "Vineyard" was only a metaphor applied to the
meeting-place of the Wise at Jamnia, but, at all events, the result of
these pleasant intellectual gatherings was the Rabbinical literature.
Jochanan himself was a typical Rabbi. For a great part of his life he
followed a mercantile pursuit, and earned his bread by manual labor. His
originality as a teacher lay in his perception that Judaism could
survive the loss of its national centre. He felt that "charity and the
love of men may replace the sacrifices." He would have preferred his
brethren to submit to Rome, and his political foresight was justified
when the war of independence closed in disaster. As Graetz has well
said, like Jeremiah Jochanan wept over the desolation of Zion, but like
Zerubbabel he created a new sanctuary. Jochanan's new sanctuary was the
In the "Vineyard" at Jamnia, the Jewish tradition was the subject of
much animated inquiry. The religious, ethical, and practical literature
of the past was sifted and treasured, and fresh additions were made. But
not much was written, for until the close of the second century the new
literature of the Jews was _oral_. The Bible was written down, and read
from scrolls, but the Rabbinical literature was committed to memory
piecemeal, and handed down from teacher to pupil. Notes were perhaps
taken in writing, but even when the Oral Literature was collected, and
arranged as a book, it is believed by many authorities that the book so
compiled remained for a considerable period an oral and not a written
This book was called the _Mishnah_ (from the verb _shana_, "to repeat"
or "to learn"). The Mishnah was not the work of one man or of one age.
So long was it in growing, that its birth dates from long before the
destruction of the Temple. But the men most closely associated with the
compilation of the Mishnah were the Tannaim (from the root _tana_, which
has the same meaning as _shana_). There were about one hundred and
twenty of these Tannaim between the years 70 and 200 C.E., and they may
be conveniently arranged in four generations. From each generation one
typical representative will here be selected.
First Generation, 70 to 100 C.E.
JOCHANAN, the son of Zakkai
Second Generation, 100 to 130 C.E.
Third Generation, 130 to 160 C.E.
Fourth Generation, 160 to 200 C.E.
JUDAH THE PRINCE
The Tannaim were the possessors of what was perhaps the greatest
principle that dominated a literature until the close of the eighteenth
century. They maintained that _literature_ and _life_ were co-extensive.
It was said of Jochanan, the son of Zakkai, that he never walked a
single step without thinking of God. Learning the Torah, that is, the
Law, the authorized Word of God, and its Prophetical and Rabbinical
developments, was man's supreme duty. "If thou hast learned much Torah,
ascribe not any merit to thyself, for therefor wast thou created." Man
was created to learn; literature was the aim of life. We have already
seen what kind of literature. Jochanan once said to his five favorite
disciples: "Go forth and consider which is the good way to which a man
should cleave." He received various answers, but he most approved of
this response: "A good heart is the way." Literature is life if it be a
heart-literature--this may be regarded as the final justification of the
union effected in the Mishnah between learning and righteousness.
Akiba, who may be taken to represent the second generation of Tannaim,
differed in character from Jochanan. Jochanan had been a member of the
peace party in the years 66 to 70; Akiba was a patriot, and took a
personal part in the later struggle against Rome, which was organized by
the heroic Bar Cochba in the years 131 to 135. Akiba set his face
against frivolity, and pronounced silence a fence about wisdom. But his
disposition was resolute rather than severe. Of him the most romantic of
love stories is told. He was a herdsman, and fell in love with his
master's daughter, who endured poverty as his devoted wife, and was
glorified in her husband's fame. But whatever contrast there may have
been in the two characters, Akiba, like Jochanan, believed that a
literature was worthless unless it expressed itself in the life of the
scholar. He and his school held in low esteem the man who, though
learned, led an evil life, but they took as their ideal the man whose
moral excellence was more conspicuous than his learning. As R. Eleazar,
the son of Azariah, said: "He whose knowledge is in excess of his good
deeds is like a tree whose branches are many and its roots scanty; the
wind comes, uproots, and overturns it. But he whose good deeds are more
than his knowledge is like a tree with few branches but many roots, so
that if all the winds in the world come and blow upon it, it remains
firm in its place." Man, according to Akiba, is master of his own
destiny; he needs God's grace to triumph over evil, yet the triumph
depends on his own efforts: "Everything is seen, yet freedom of choice
is given; the world is judged by grace, yet all is according to the
work." The Torah, the literature of Israel, was to Akiba "a desirable
instrument," a means to life.
Among the distinctions of Akiba's school must be named the first literal
translation of the Bible into Greek. This work was done towards the
close of the second century by Aquila, a proselyte, who was inspired by
Akiba's teaching. Aquila's version was inferior to the Alexandrian Greek
version, called the Septuagint, in graces of style, but was superior in
accuracy. Aquila followed the Hebrew text word by word. This translator
is identical with Onkelos, to whom in later centuries the Aramaic
translation (_Targum_ Onkelos) of the Pentateuch was ascribed. Aramaic
versions of the Bible were made at a very early period, and the Targum
Onkelos may contain ancient elements, but in its present form it is not
earlier than the fifth century.
Meir, whom we take as representative of the third generation of Tannaim,
was filled with the widest sympathies. In his conception of truth,
everything that men can know belonged to the Torah. Not that the Torah
superseded or absorbed all other knowledge, but that the Torah needed,
for its right study, all the aids which science and secular information
could supply. In this way Jewish literature was to some extent saved
from the danger of becoming a merely religious exercise, and in later
centuries, when the mass of Jews were disposed to despise and even
discourage scientific and philosophical culture, a minority was always
prepared to resist this tendency and, on the ground of the views of some
of the Tannaim like Meir, claimed the right to study what we should now
term secular sciences. The width of Meir's sympathies may be seen in his
tolerant conduct towards his friend Elisha, the son of Abuya. When the
latter forsook Judaism, Meir remained true to Elisha. He devoted himself
to the effort to win back his old friend, and, though he failed, he
never ceased to love him. Again, Meir was famed for his knowledge of
fables, in antiquity a branch of the wisdom of all the Eastern world.
Meir's large-mindedness was matched by his large-heartedness, and in his
wife Beruriah he possessed a companion whose tender sympathies and fine
toleration matched his own.
The fourth generation of Tannaim is overshadowed by the fame of Judah
the Prince, _Rabbi_, as he was simply called. He lived from 150 to 210,
and with his name is associated the compilation of the Mishnah. A man of
genial manners, strong intellectual grasp, he was the exemplar also of
princely hospitality and of friendship with others than Jews. His
intercourse with one of the Antonines was typical of his wide culture.
Life was not, in Rabbi Judah's view, compounded of smaller and larger
incidents, but all the affairs of life were parts of the great divine
scheme. "Reflect upon three things, and thou wilt not fall into the
power of sin: Know what is above thee--a seeing eye and a hearing
ear--and all thy deeds are written in a book."
The Mishnah, which deals with things great and small, with everything
that concerns men, is the literary expression of this view of life. Its
language is the new-Hebrew, a simple, nervous idiom suited to practical
life, but lacking the power and poetry of the Biblical Hebrew. It is a
more useful but less polished instrument than the older language. The
subject-matter of the Mishnah includes both law and morality, the
affairs of the body, of the soul, and of the mind. Business, religion,
social duties, ritual, are all dealt with in one and the same code. The
fault of this conception is, that by associating things of unequal
importance, both the mind and the conscience may become incapable of
discriminating the great from the small, the external from the
spiritual. Another ill consequence was that, as literature corresponded
so closely with life, literature could not correct the faults of life,
when life became cramped or stagnant. The modern spirit differs from the
ancient chiefly in that literature has now become an independent force,
which may freshen and stimulate life. But the older ideal was
nevertheless a great one. That man's life is a unity; that his conduct
is in all its parts within the sphere of ethics and religion; that his
mind and conscience are not independent, but two sides of the same
thing; and that therefore his religious, ethical, śsthetic, and
intellectual literature is one and indivisible,--this was a noble
conception which, with all its weakness, had distinct points of
superiority over the modern view.
The Mishnah is divided into six parts, or Orders (_Sedarim_); each Order
into Tractates (_Massechtoth_); each Tractate into Chapters (_Perakim_);
each Chapter into Paragraphs (each called a _Mishnah_). The six Orders
are as follows:
ZERAIM ("Seeds"). Deals with the laws connected with Agriculture, and
opens with a Tractate on Prayer ("Blessings").
MOED ("Festival"). On Festivals.
NASHIM ("Women"). On the laws relating to Marriage, etc.
NEZIKIN ("Damages"). On civil and criminal Law.
KODASHIM ("Holy Things"). On Sacrifices, etc.
TEHAROTH ("Purifications"). On personal and ritual Purity.
Graetz.--_History of the Jews_, English translation,
Vol. II, chapters 13-17 (character of the Mishnah, end of ch. 17).
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_ (London, 1857), p. 13.
Schiller-Szinessy.--_Encyclopedia Britannica_ (Ninth Edition),
Vol. XVI, p. 502.
De Sola and Raphall.--_Eighteen Tractates from the Mishnah_
(English translation, London).
C. Taylor.--_Sayings of the Jewish Fathers_ (Cambridge, 1897).
A. Kohut.--_The Ethics of the Fathers_ (New York, 1885).
G. Karpeles.--_A Sketch of Jewish History_ (Jewish Publication
Society of America, 1895), p. 40.
F.C. Burkitt.--_Jewish Quarterly Review_, Vol. X, p. 207.
FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS AND THE JEWISH SIBYL
Great national crises usually produce an historical literature. This is
more likely to happen with the nation that wins in a war than with the
nation that loses. Thus, in the Maccabean period, historical works
dealing with the glorious struggle and its triumphant termination were
written by Jews both in Hebrew and in Greek. After the terrible
misfortune which befell the Jews in the year 70, when Jerusalem sank
before the Roman arms never to rise again, little heart was there for
writing history. Jews sought solace in their existing literature rather
than in new productions, and the Bible and the oral traditions that were
to crystallize a century later into the Mishnah filled the national
heart and mind. Yet more than one Jew felt an impulse to write the
history of the dismal time. Thus the first complete books which appeared
in Jewish literature after the loss of nationality were historical works
written by two men, Justus and Josephus, both of whom bore an active
part in the most recent of the wars which they recorded. Justus of
Tiberias wrote in Greek a terse chronicle entitled, "History of the
Jewish Kings," and also a more detailed narrative of the "Jewish War"
with Rome. Both these books are known to us only from quotations. The
originals are entirely lost. A happier fate has preserved the works of
another Jewish historian of the same period, Flavius Josephus (38 to 95
C.E.), the literary and political opponent of Justus. He wrote three
histories: "Antiquities of the Jews"; an "Autobiography"; "The Wars of
the Jews"; together with a reply to the attacks of an Alexandrian critic
of Judaism, "Against Apion." The character of Josephus has been
variously estimated. Some regard him as a patriot, who yielded to Rome
only when convinced that Jewish destiny required such submission. But
the most probable view of his career is as follows. Josephus was a man
of taste and learning. He was a student of the Greek and Latin classics,
which he much admired, and was also a devoted and loyal lover of
Judaism. Unfortunately, circumstances thrust him into a political
position from which he could extricate himself only by treachery and
duplicity. As a young man he had visited Rome, and there acquired
enthusiastic admiration for the Romans. When he returned to Palestine,
he found his countrymen filled with fiery patriotism and about to hurl
themselves against the legions of the Caesars. To his dismay Josephus
saw himself drawn into the patriotic vortex. By a strange mishap an
important command was entrusted to him. He betrayed his country, and
saved himself by eager submission to the Romans. He became a personal
friend of Vespasian and the constant companion of his son Titus.
Traitor though he was to the national cause, Josephus was a steadfast
champion of the Jewish religion. All his works are animated with a
desire to present Judaism and the Jews in the best light. He was
indignant that heathen historians wrote with scorn of the vanquished
Jews, and resolved to describe the noble stand made by the Jewish armies
against Rome. He was moved to wrath by the Egyptian Manetho's distortion
of the ancient history of Israel, and he could not rest silent under the
insults of Apion. The works of Josephus are therefore works written with
a _tendency_ to glorify his people and his religion. But they are in the
main trustworthy, and are, indeed, one of the chief sources of
information for the history of the Jews in post-Biblical times. His
style is clear and attractive, and his power of grasping the events of
long periods is comparable with that of Polybius. He was no mere
chronicler; he possessed some faculty for explaining as well as
recording facts and some real insight into the meaning of events passing
under his own eyes.
He wrote for the most part in Greek, both because that language was
familiar to many cultured Jews of his day, and because his histories
thereby became accessible to the world of non-Jewish readers. Sometimes
he used both Aramaic and Greek. For instance, he produced his "Jewish
War" first in the one, subsequently in the other of these languages. The
Aramaic version has been lost, but the Greek has survived. His style is
often eloquent, especially in his book "Against Apion." This was an
historical and philosophical justification of Judaism. At the close of
this work Josephus says: "And so I make bold to say that we are become
the teachers of other men in the greatest number of things, and those
the most excellent." Josephus, like the Jewish Hellenists of an earlier
date, saw in Judaism a universal religion, which ought to be shared by
all the peoples of the earth. Judaism was to Josephus, as to Philo, not
a contrast or antithesis to Greek culture, but the perfection and
culmination of culture.
The most curious efforts to propagate Judaism were, however, those which
were clothed in a Sibylline disguise. In heathen antiquity, the Sibyl
was an inspired prophetess whose mysterious oracles concerned the
destinies of cities and nations. These oracles enjoyed high esteem among
the cultivated Greeks, and, in the second century B.C.E., some
Alexandrian Jews made use of them to recommend Judaism to the heathen
world. In the Jewish Sibylline books the religion of Israel is presented
as a hope and a threat; a menace to those who refuse to follow the
better life, a promise of salvation to those who repent. About the year
80 C.E., a book of this kind was composed. It is what is known as the
Fourth Book of the Sibylline Oracles. The language is Greek, the form
hexameter verse. In this poem, the Sibyl, in the guise of a prophetess,
tells of the doom of those who resist the will of the one true God,
praises the God of Israel, and holds out a beautiful prospect to the
The book opens with an invocation:
Hear, people of proud Asia, Europe, too,
How many things by great, loud-sounding mouth,
All true and of my own, I prophesy.
No oracle of false Apollo this,
Whom vain men call a god, tho' he deceived;
But of the mighty God, whom human hands
Shaped not like speechless idols cut in stone.
The Sibyl speaks of the true God, to love whom brings blessing. The
ungodly triumph for a while, as Assyria, Media, Phrygia, Greece, and
Egypt had triumphed. Jerusalem will fall, and the Temple perish in
flames, but retribution will follow, the earth will be desolated by the
divine wrath, the race of men and cities and rivers will be reduced to
smoky dust, unless moral amendment comes betimes. Then the Sibyl's note
changes into a prophecy of Messianic judgment and bliss, and she ends
with a comforting message:
But when all things become an ashy pile,
God will put out the fire unspeakable
Which he once kindled, and the bones and ashes
Of men will God himself again transform,
And raise up mortals as they were before.
And then will be the judgment, God himself
Will sit as judge, and judge the world again.
As many as committed impious sins
Shall Stygian Gehenna's depths conceal
'Neath molten earth and dismal Tartarus.
But the pious shall again live on the earth,
And God will give them spirit, life, and means
Of nourishment, and all shall see themselves,
Beholding the sun's sweet and cheerful light.
O happiest men who at that time shall live!
The Jews found some consolation for present sorrows in the thought of
past deliverances. The short historical record known as the "Scroll of
Fasting" (_Megillath Taanith_) was perhaps begun before the destruction
of the Temple, but was completed after the death of Trajan in 118. This
scroll contained thirty-five brief paragraphs written in Aramaic. The
compilation, which is of great historical value, follows the order of
the Jewish Calendar, beginning with the month Nisan and ending with
Adar. The entries in the list relate to the days on which it was held
unlawful to fast, and many of these days were anniversaries of national
victories. The Megillath Taanith contains no jubilations over these
triumphs, but is a sober record of facts. It is a precious survival of
the historical works compiled by the Jews before their dispersion from
Palestine. Such works differ from those of Josephus and the Sibyl in
their motive. They were not designed to win foreign admiration for
Judaism, but to provide an accurate record for home use and inspire the
Jews with hope amid the threatening prospects of life.
Whiston's English Translation, revised by Shilleto (1889).
Graetz.--II, p. 276 .
S.A. Hirsch.--_Jewish Sibylline Oracles_, _J.Q.R._, II, p. 406.
The Amoraim compile the Palestinian Talmud and the Babylonian
I (220-280) Palestine--Jochanan, Simon, Joshua, Simlai;
Babylonia--Rab and Samuel.
II (280-320) Palestine--Ami, Assi, Abbahu, Chiya;
Babylonia--Huna and Zeira.
III (320-380) Babylonia--Rabba, Abayi, Rava.
IV (380-430) Babylonia--Ashi (first compilation of the
V and VI (430-500) Babylonia--Rabina (completion of the
The _Talmud_, or _Gemara_ ("Doctrine," or "Completion"), was a natural
development of the Mishnah. The Talmud contains, indeed, many elements
as old as the Mishnah, some even older. But, considered as a whole, the
Talmud is a commentary on the work of the Tannaim. It is written, not in
Hebrew, as the Mishnah is, but in a popular Aramaic. There are two
distinct works to which the title Talmud is applied; the one is the
Jerusalem Talmud (completed about the year 370 C.E.), the other the
Babylonian (completed a century later). At first, as we have seen, the
Rabbinical schools were founded on Jewish soil. But Palestine did not
continue to offer a friendly welcome. Under the more tolerant rulers of
Babylonia or Persia, Jewish learning found a refuge from the harshness
experienced under those of the Holy Land. The Babylonian Jewish schools
in Nehardea, Sura, and Pumbeditha rapidly surpassed the Palestinian in
reputation, and in the year 350 C.E., owing to natural decay, the
Palestinian schools closed.
The Talmud is accordingly not one work, but two, the one the literary
product of the Palestinian, the other, of the Babylonian _Amoraim_. The
latter is the larger, the more studied, the better preserved, and to it
attention will here be mainly confined. The Talmud is not a book, it is
a literature. It contains a legal code, a system of ethics, a body of
ritual customs, poetical passages, prayers, histories, facts of science
and medicine, and fancies of folk-lore.
The Amoraim were what their name implies, "Expounders," or
"Discoursers"; but their expositions were often original contributions
to literature. Their work extends over the long interval between 200 and
500 C.E. The Amoraim naturally were men of various character and
condition. Some were possessed of much material wealth, others were
excessively poor. But few of them were professional men of letters. Like
the Tannaim, the Amoraim were often artisans, field-laborers, or
physicians, whose heart was certainly in literature, but whose hand was
turned to the practical affairs of life. The men who stood highest
socially, the Princes of the Captivity in Babylonia and the Patriarchs
in Palestine, were not always those vested with the highest authority.
Some of the Amoraim, again, were merely receptive, the medium through
which tradition was handed on; others were creative as well. To put the
same fact in Rabbinical metaphor, some were Sinais of learning, others
tore up mountains, and ground them together in keen and critical
The oldest of the Amoraim, Chanina, the son of Chama, of Sepphoris
(180-260), was such a firm mountain of ancient learning. On the other
hand, Jochanan, the son of Napacha (199-279), of dazzling physical
beauty, had a more original mind. His personal charms conveyed to him
perhaps a sense of the artistic; to him the Greek language was a
delight, "an ornament of women." Simon, the son of Lakish (200-275),
hardy of muscle and of intellect, started life as a professional
athlete. A later Rabbi, Zeira, was equally noted for his feeble,
unprepossessing figure and his nimble, ingenious mind. Another
contemporary of Jochanan, Joshua, the son of Levi, is the hero of many
legends. He was so tender to the poor that he declared his conviction
that the Messiah would arise among the beggars and cripples of Rome.
Simlai, who was born in Palestine, and migrated to Nehardea in
Babylonia, was more of a poet than a lawyer. His love was for the
ethical and poetic elements of the Talmud, the _Hagadah_, as this aspect
of the Rabbinical literature was called in contradistinction to the
_Halachah_, or legal elements. Simlai entered into frequent discussions
with the Christian Fathers on subjects of Biblical exegesis.
The centre of interest now changes to Babylonia. Here, in the year 219,
Abba Areka, or Rab (175-247), founded the Sura academy, which continued
to flourish for nearly eight centuries. He and his great contemporary
Samuel (180-257) enjoy with Jochanan the honor of supplying the leading
materials of which the Talmud consists. Samuel laid down a rule which,
based on an utterance of the prophet Jeremiah, enabled Jews to live and
serve in non-Jewish countries. "The law of the land is law," said
Samuel. But he lived in the realms of the stars as well as in the
streets of his city. Samuel was an astronomer, and he is reported to
have boasted with truth, that "he was as familiar with the paths of the
stars as with the streets of Nehardea." He arranged the Jewish Calendar,
his work in this direction being perfected by Hillel II in the fourth
century. Like Simlai, Rab and Samuel had heathen and Christian friends.
Origen and Jerome read the Scriptures under the guidance of Jews. The
heathen philosopher Porphyry wrote a commentary on the Book of Daniel.
So, too, Abbahu, who lived in Palestine a little later on, frequented
the society of cultivated Romans, and had his family taught Greek.
Abbahu was a manufacturer of veils for women's wear, for, like many
Amoraim, he scorned to make learning a means of living, Abbahu's modesty
with regard to his own merits shows that a Rabbi was not necessarily
arrogant in pride of knowledge! Once Abbahu's lecture was besieged by a
great crowd, but the audience of his colleague Chiya was scanty. "Thy
teaching," said Abbahu to Chiya, "is a rare jewel, of which only an
expert can judge; mine is tinsel, which attracts every ignorant eye."
It was Rab, however, who was the real popularizer of Jewish learning. He
arranged courses of lectures for the people as well as for scholars.
Rab's successor as head of the Sura school, Huna (212-297), completed
Rab's work in making Babylonia the chief centre of Jewish learning. Huna
tilled his own fields for a living, and might often be met going home
with his spade over his shoulder. It was men like this who built up the
Jewish tradition. Huna's predecessor, however, had wider experience of
life, for Rab had been a student in Palestine, and was in touch with the
Jews of many parts. From Rab's time onwards, learning became the
property of the whole people, and the Talmud, besides being the
literature of the Jewish universities, may be called the book of the
masses. It contains, not only the legal and ethical results of the
investigations of the learned, but also the wisdom and superstition of
the masses. The Talmud is not exactly a national literature, but it was
a unique bond between the scattered Jews, an unparallelled spiritual and
literary instrument for maintaining the identity of Judaism amid the
many tribulations to which the Jews were subjected.
The Talmud owed much to many minds. Externally it was influenced by the
nations with which the Jews came into contact. From the inside, the
influences at work were equally various. Jochanan, Rab, and Samuel in
the third century prepared the material out of which the Talmud was
finally built. The actual building was done by scholars in the fourth
century. Rabba, the son of Nachmani (270-330), Abayi (280-338), and Rava
(299-352) gave the finishing touches to the method of the Talmud. Rabba
was a man of the people; he was a clear thinker, and loved to attract
all comers by an apt anecdote. Rava had a superior sense of his own
dignity, and rather neglected the needs of the ordinary man of his day.
Abayi was more of the type of the average Rabbi, acute, genial,
self-denying. Under the impulse of men of the most various gifts of mind
and heart, the Talmud was gradually constructed, but two names are
prominently associated with its actual compilation. These were Ashi
(352-427) and Rabina (died 499). Ashi combined massive learning with
keen logical ingenuity. He needed both for the task to which he devoted
half a century of his life. He possessed a vast memory, in which the
accumulated tradition of six centuries was stored, and he was gifted
with the mental orderliness which empowered him to deal with this
bewildering mass of materials.
It is hardly possible that after the compilation of the Talmud it
remained an oral book, though it must be remembered that memory played a
much greater part in earlier centuries than it does now. At all events,
Ashi, and after him Rabina, performed the great work of systematizing
the Rabbinical literature at a turning-point in the world's history. The
Mishnah had been begun at a moment when the Roman empire was at its
greatest vigor and glory; the Talmud was completed at the time when the
Roman empire was in its decay. That the Jews were saved from similar
disintegration, was due very largely to the Talmud. The Talmud is thus
one of the great books of the world. Despite its faults, its excessive
casuistry, its lack of style and form, its stupendous mass of detailed
laws and restrictions, it is nevertheless a great book in and for
itself. It is impossible to consider it further here in its religious
aspects. But something must be said in the next chapter of that side of
the Rabbinical literature known as the _Midrash_.
Essays by E. Deutsch and A. Darmesteter (Jewish Publication Society
Graetz.--II, 18-22 (character of the Talmud, end of ch. 22).
Karpeles.--_Jewish Literature and other Essays_, p. 52.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 20.
Schiller-Szinessy.--_Encycl. Brit._, Vol. XXIII, p. 35.
M. Mielziner.--_Introduction to the Talmud_ (Cincinnati, 1894).
S. Schechter.--_Some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology_, _J.Q.R._, VI,
p. 405, etc.
---- _Studies in Judaism_ (Jewish Publication Society of America,
1896), pp. 155, 182, 213, 233 [189, 222, 259, 283].
B. Spiers.--_School System of the Talmud_ (London, 1898)
(with appendix on Baba Kama); the _Threefold Cord_ (1893)
on _Sanhedrin, Baba Metsia_, and _Baba Bathra_.
M. Jastrow.--_History and Future of the Text of the Talmud
(Publications of the Gratz College_, Philadelphia, 1897, Vol. I).
P.B. Benny.--_Criminal Code of the Jews according to the Talmud_
S. Mendelsohn.--_The Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews_
D. Castelli.--_Future Life in Rabbinical Literature_, _J.Q.R._,
I, p. 314.
M. GŁdemann.--_Spirit and Letter in Judaism and Christianity_,
_ibid._, IV, p. 345.
I. Harris.--_Rise and Development of the Massorah_,
_ibid._, I, pp. 128, etc.
H. Polano.--_The Talmud_ (Philadelphia, 1876).
I. Myers.--_Gems from the Talmud_ (London, 1894).
D.W. Amram.--_The Jewish Law of Divorce according to Bible and
Talmud_ (Philadelphia, 1896).
THE MIDRASH AND ITS POETRY
Mechilta, Sifra, Sifre, Pesikta, Tanchuma, Midrash
In its earliest forms identical with the Halachah, or the practical and
legal aspects of the Mishnah and the Talmud, the Midrash, in its fuller
development, became an independent branch of Rabbinical literature. Like
the Talmud, the Midrash is of a composite nature, and under the one name
the accumulations of ages are included. Some of its contents are earlier
than the completion of the Bible, others were collected and even created
as recently as the tenth or the eleventh century of the current era.
Midrash ("Study," "Inquiry") was in the first instance an _Explanation
of the Scriptures_. This explanation is often the clear, natural
exposition of the text, and it enforces rules of conduct both ethical
and ritual. The historical and moral traditions which clustered round
the incidents and characters of the Bible soon received a more vivid
setting. The poetical sense of the Rabbis expressed itself in a vast and
beautiful array of legendary additions to the Bible, but the additions
are always devised with a moral purpose, to give point to a preacher's
homily or to inspire the imagination of the audience with nobler
fancies. Besides being expository, the Midrash is, therefore, didactic
and poetical, the moral being conveyed in the guise of a _narrative_,
amplifying and developing the contents of Scripture. The Midrash gives
the results of that deep searching of the Scriptures which became second
nature with the Jews, and it also represents the changes and expansions
of ethical and theological ideals as applied to a changing and growing
From another point of view, also, the Midrash is a poetical literature.
Its function as a species of _popular homiletics_ made it necessary to
appeal to the emotions. In its warm and living application of abstract
truths to daily ends, in its responsive and hopeful intensification of
the nearness of God to Israel, in its idealization of the past and
future of the Jews, it employed the poet's art in essence, though not in
form. It will be seen later on that in another sense the Midrash is a
poetical literature, using the lore of the folk, the parable, the
proverb, the allegory, and the fable, and often using them in the
language of poetry.
The oldest Midrash is the actual report of sermons and addresses of the
Tannaite age; the latest is a medieval compilation from all extant
sources. The works to which the name Midrash is applied are the
_Mechilta_ (to Exodus); the _Sifra_ (to Leviticus); the _Sifre_ (to
Numbers and Deuteronomy); the _Pesikta_ (to various _Sections_ of the
Bible, whence its name); the _Tanchuma_ (to the Pentateuch); the
_Midrash Rabbah_ (the "Great Midrash," to the Pentateuch and the Five
Scrolls of Esther, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of
Songs); and the _Midrash Haggadol_ (identical in name, and in contents
similar to, but not identical with, the _Midrash Rabbah_); together with
a large number of collected Midrashim, such as the _Yalkut_, and a host
of smaller works, several of which are no longer extant.
Regarding the Midrash in its purely literary aspects, we find its style
to be far more lucid than that of the Talmud, though portions of the
Halachic Midrash are identical in character with the Talmud. The Midrash
has many passages in which the simple graces of form match the beauty of
idea. But for the most part the style is simple and prosaic, rather than
ornate or poetical. It produces its effects by the most straightforward
means, and strikes a modern reader as lacking distinction in form. The
dead level of commonplace expression is, however, brightened by
brilliant passages of frequent occurrence. Prayers, proverbs, parables,
and fables, dot the pages of Talmud and Midrash alike. The ancient
_proverbs_ of the Jews were more than mere chips from the block of
experience. They were poems, by reason of their use of metaphor,
alliteration, assonance, and imagination. The Rabbinical proverbs show
all these poetical qualities.
He who steals from a thief smells of theft.--Charity is the
salt of Wealth.--Silence is a fence about Wisdom.--Many old
camels carry the skins of their young.--Two dry sticks and one
green burn together.--If the priest steals the god, on what
can one take an oath?--All the dyers cannot bleach a raven's
wing.--Into a well from which you have drunk, cast no
stone.--Alas for the bread which the baker calls bad.--Slander
is a Snake that stings in Syria, and slays in Rome.--The Dove
escaped from the Eagle and found a Serpent in her nest.--Tell
no secrets, for the Wall has ears.
These, like many more of the Rabbinical proverbs, are essentially
poetical. Some, indeed, are either expanded metaphors or metaphors
touched by genius into poetry. The alliterative proverbs and maxims of
the Talmud and Midrash are less easily illustrated. Sometimes they
enshrine a pun or a conceit, or depend for their aptness upon an
assonance. In some of the Talmudic proverbs there is a spice of
cynicism. But most of them show a genial attitude towards life.
The poetical proverb easily passes into the parable. Loved in Bible
times, the parable became in after centuries the most popular form of
didactic poetry among the Jews. The Bible has its parables, but the
Midrash overflows with them. They are occasionally re-workings of older
thoughts, but mostly they are original creations, invented for a special
purpose, stories devised to drive home a moral, allegories administering
in pleasant wrappings unpalatable satires or admonitions. In all ages
up to the present, Jewish moralists have relied on the parable as their
most effective instrument. The poetry of the Jewish parables is
characteristic also of the parables imitated from the Jewish, but the
latter have a distinguishing feature peculiar to them. This is their
humor, the witty or humorous parable being exclusively Jewish. The
parable is less spontaneous than the proverb. It is a product of moral
poetry rather than of folk wisdom. Yet the parable was so like the
proverb that the moral of a parable often became a new proverb. The
diction of the parable is naturally more ornate. By the beauty of its
expression, its frequent application of rural incidents to the life
familiar in the cities, the rhythm and flow of its periods, its fertile
imagination, the parable should certainly be placed high in the world's
poetry. But it was poetry with a _tendency_, the _mashal_, or
proverb-parable, being what the Rabbis themselves termed it, "the clear
small light by which lost jewels can be found."
The following is a parable of Hillel, which is here cited more to
mention that noble, gentle Sage than as a specimen of this class of
literature. Hillel belongs to a period earlier than that dealt with in
this book, but his loving and pure spirit breathes through the pages of
the Talmud and Midrash:
Hillel, the gentle, the beloved sage,
Expounded day by day the sacred page
To his disciples in the house of learning;
And day by day, when home at eve returning,
They lingered, clustering round him, loth to part
From him whose gentle rule won every heart.
But evermore, when they were wont to plead
For longer converse, forth he went with speed,
Saying each day: "I go--the hour is late--
To tend the guest who doth my coming wait,"
Until at last they said: "The Rabbi jests,
When telling us thus daily of his guests
That wait for him." The Rabbi paused awhile,
And then made answer: "Think you I beguile
You with an idle tale? Not so, forsooth!
I have a guest whom I must tend in truth.
Is not the soul of man indeed a guest,
Who in this body deigns a while to rest,
And dwells with me all peacefully to-day:
To-morrow--may it not have fled away?"
Space must be found for one other parable, taken (like many other
poetical quotations in this volume) from Mrs. Lucas' translations:
Simeon ben Migdal, at the close of day,
Upon the shores of ocean chanced to stray,
And there a man of form and mien uncouth,
Dwarfed and misshapen, met he on the way.
"Hail, Rabbi," spoke the stranger passing by,
But Simeon thus, discourteous, made reply:
"Say, are there in thy city many more,
Like unto thee, an insult to the eye?"
"Nay, that I cannot tell," the wand'rer said,
"But if thou wouldst ply the scorner's trade,
Go first and ask the Master Potter why
He has a vessel so misshapen made?"
Then (so the legend tells) the Rabbi knew
That he had sinned, and prone himself he threw
Before the other's feet, and prayed of him
Pardon for the words that now his soul did rue.
But still the other answered as before:
"Go, in the Potter's ear thy plaint outpour,
For what am I! His hand has fashioned me,
And I in humble faith that hand adore."
Brethren, do we not often too forget
Whose hand it is that many a time has set
A radiant soul in an unlovely form,
A fair white bird caged in a mouldering net?
Nay more, do not life's times and chances, sent
By the great Artificer with intent
That they should prove a blessing, oft appear
To us a burden that we sore lament?
Ah! soul, poor soul of man! what heavenly fire
Would thrill thy depths and love of God inspire,
Could'st thou but see the Master hand revealed,
Majestic move "earth's scheme of things entire."
It cannot be! Unseen he guideth us,
But yet our feeble hands, the luminous
Pure lamp of faith can light to glorify
The narrow path that he has traced for us.
Finally, there are the _Beast Fables_ of the Talmud and the Midrash.
Most of these were borrowed directly or indirectly from India. We are
told in the Talmud that Rabbi Meir knew three hundred Fox Fables, and
that with his death (about 290 C.E.) "fabulists ceased to be," Very few
of Meir's fables are extant, so that it is impossible to gather whether
or not they were original. There are only thirty fables in the Talmud
and the Midrash, and of these several cannot be parallelled in other
literatures. Some of the Talmudic fables are found also in the
classical and the earliest Indian collections; some in the later
collections; some in the classics, but not in the Indian lists; some in
India, but not in the Latin and Greek authors. Among the latter is the
well-known fable of the _Fox and the Fishes_, used so dramatically by
Rabbi Akiba. The original Talmudic fables are, according to Mr. J.
Jacobs, the following: _Chaff, Straw, and Wheat_, who dispute for which
of them the seed has been sown: the winnowing fan soon decides; _The
Caged Bird_, who is envied by his free fellow; _The Wolf and the two
Hounds_, who have quarrelled; the wolf seizes one, the other goes to his
rival's aid, fearing the same fate himself on the morrow, unless he
helps the other dog to-day; _The Wolf at the Well_, the mouth of the
well is covered with a net: "If I go down into the well," says the wolf,
"I shall be caught. If I do not descend, I shall die of thirst"; _The
Cock and the Bat_, who sit together waiting for the sunrise: "I wait
for the dawn," said the cock, "for the light is my signal; but as for
thee--the light is thy ruin"; and, finally, what Mr. Jacobs calls the
grim beast-tale of the _Fox as Singer_, in which the beasts--invited by
the lion to a feast, and covered by him with the skins of wild
beasts--are led by the fox in a chorus: "What has happened to those
above us, will happen to him above," implying that their host, too, will
come to a violent death. In the context the fable is applied to Haman,
whose fate, it is augured, will resemble that of the two officers whose
guilt Mordecai detected.
Such fables are used in the Talmud to point religious or even political
morals, very much as the parables were. The fable, however, took a lower
flight than the parable, and its moral was based on expediency, rather
than on the highest ethical ideals. The importance of the Talmudic
fables is historical more than literary or religious. Hebrew fables
supply one of the links connecting the popular literature of the East
with that of the West. But they hardly belong in the true sense to
Jewish literature. Parables, on the other hand, were an essential and
characteristic branch of that literature.
Schiller-Szinessy.--_Encycl. Brit._, Vol. XVI, p. 285.
Graetz.--II, p. 328  _seq._
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, pp. 5 _seq._,
L.N. Dembitz.--_Jewish Services in Synagogue and Home_
(Jewish Publication Society of America, 1898), p. 44.
J. Jacobs.--_The Fables of ∆sop_ (London, 1889), I,
p. 110 _seq._
Read also Schechter, _Studies in Judaism_, p. 272 ;
and _J.Q.R._, (Kohler), V, p. 399; VII, p. 581;
(Bacher) IV, p. 406; (Davis) VIII, p. 529; (Abrahams) I, p. 216;
II, p. 172; Chenery, _Legends from the Midrash_ (_Miscellany
of the Society of Hebrew Literature_, Vol. II).
THE LETTERS OF THE GAONIM
Achai, Amram, Zemach, Saadiah, Sherira, Samuel, Hai.
For several centuries after the completion of the Talmud, Babylonia or
Persia continued to hold the supremacy in Jewish learning. The great
teachers in the Persian schools followed the same lines as their
predecessors in the Mishnah and the Talmud. Their name was changed more
than their character. The title _Gaon_ ("Excellence") was applied to the
head of the school, the members of which devoted themselves mainly to
the study and interpretation of the older literature. They also made
original contributions to the store. Of their extensive works but little
has been preserved. What has survived proves that they were gifted with
the faculty of applying old precept to modern instance. They regulated
the social and religious affairs of all the Jews in the diaspora. They
improved educational methods, and were pioneers in the popularization of
learning. By a large collection of Case Law, that is, decisions in
particular cases, they brought the newer Jewish life into moral harmony
with the principles formulated by the earlier Rabbis. The Gaonim were
the originators or, at least, the arrangers of parts of the liturgy.
They composed new hymns and invocations, fixed the order of service, and
established in full vigor a system of _Minhag_, or Custom, whose power
became more and more predominant, not only in religious, but also in
social and commercial affairs.
The literary productions of the Gaonic age open with the _Sheeltoth_
written by Achai in the year 760. This, the first independent book
composed after the close of the Talmud, was curiously enough compiled
in Palestine, whither Achai had migrated from Persia. The Sheeltoth
("Inquiries") contain nearly two hundred homilies on the Pentateuch. In
the year 880 another Gaon, Amram by name, prepared a _Siddur_, or
Prayer-Book, which includes many remarks on the history of the liturgy
and the customs connected with it. A contemporary of Amram, Zemach, the
son of Paltoi, found a different channel for his literary energies. He
compiled an _Aruch_, or Talmudical Lexicon. Of the most active of the
Gaonim, Saadiah, more will be said in a subsequent chapter. We will now
pass on to Sherira, who in 987 wrote his famous "Letter," containing a
history of the Jewish Tradition, a work which stamps the author as at
once learned and critical. It shows that the Gaonim were not afraid nor
incapable of facing such problems as this: Was the Mishnah _orally_
transmitted to the Amoraim (or Rabbis of the Talmud), or was it
_written down_ by the compiler? Sherira accepted the former alternative.
The latest Gaonim were far more productive than the earlier. Samuel, the
son of Chofni, who died in 1034, and the last of the Gaonim, Hai, who
flourished from 998 to 1038, were the authors of many works on the
Talmud, the Bible, and other branches of Jewish literature. Hai Gaon was
also a poet.
The language used by the Gaonim was at first Hebrew and Aramaic, and the
latter remained the official speech of the Gaonate. In course of time,
Arabic replaced the Aramean dialect, and became the _lingua franca_ of
The formal works of the Gaonim, with certain obvious exceptions, were
not, however, the writings by which they left their mark on their age.
The most original and important of the Gaonic writings were their
"Letters," or "Answers" (_Teshuboth_). The Gaonim, as heads of the
school in the Babylonian cities Sura and Pumbeditha, enjoyed far more
than local authority. The Jews of Persia were practically independent of
external control. Their official heads were the Exilarchs, who reigned
over the Jews as viceroys of the caliphs. The Gaonim were the religious
heads of an emancipated community. The Exilarchs possessed a princely
revenue, which they devoted in part to the schools over which the Gaonim
presided. This position of authority, added to the world-wide repute of
the two schools, gave the Gaonim an influence which extended beyond
their own neighborhood. From all parts of the Jewish world their
guidance was sought and their opinions solicited on a vast variety of
subjects, mainly, but not exclusively, religious and literary. Amid the
growing complications of ritual law, a desire was felt for terse
prescriptions, clear-cut decisions, and rules of conduct. The
imperfections of study outside of Persia, again, made it essential to
apply to the Gaonim for authoritative expositions of difficult passages
in the Bible and the Talmud. To all such enquiries the Gaonim sent
responses in the form of letters, sometimes addressed to individual
correspondents, sometimes to communities or groups of communities. These
Letters and other compilations containing Halachic (or practical)
decisions were afterwards collected into treatises, such as the "Great
Rules" (_Halachoth Gedoloth_), originally compiled in the eighth
century, but subsequently reedited. Mostly, however, the Letters were
left in loose form, and were collected in much later times.
The Letters of the Gaonim have little pretence to literary form. They
are the earliest specimens of what became a very characteristic branch
of Jewish literature. "Questions and Answers" (_Shaaloth u-Teshuboth_)
abound in later times in all Jewish circles, and there is no real
parallel to them in any other literature. More will be said later on as
to these curious works. So far as the Gaonic period is concerned, the
characteristics of these thousands of letters are lucidity of thought
and terseness of expression. The Gaonim never waste a word. They are
rarely over-bearing in manner, but mostly use a tone which is persuasive
rather than disciplinary. The Gaonim were, in this real sense,
therefore, princes of letter-writing. Moreover, though their Letters
deal almost entirely with contemporary affairs, they now constitute as
fresh and vivid reading as when first penned. Subjected to the severe
test of time, the Letters of the Gaonim emerge triumphant.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 25.
THE KARAITIC LITERATURE
Anan, Nahavendi, Abul-Faraj, Salman, Sahal, al-Bazir, Hassan,
Japhet, Kirkisani, Judah Hadassi, Isaac Troki.
In the very heart of the Gaonate, the eighth century witnessed a
religious and literary reaction against Rabbinism. The opposition to the
Rabbinite spirit was far older than this, but it came to a head under
Anan, the son of David, the founder of Karaism. Anan had been an
unsuccessful candidate for the dignity of Exilarch, and thus personal
motives were involved in his attack on the Gaonim. But there were other
reasons for the revolt. In the same century, Islam, like Judaism, was
threatened by a fierce antagonism between the friends and the foes of
tradition. In Islam the struggle lay between the Sunnites, who
interpreted Mohammedanism in accordance with authorized tradition, and
the Shiites, who relied exclusively upon the Koran. Similarly, in
Judaism, the Rabbinites obeyed the traditions of the earlier
authorities, and the Karaites (from _Kera_, or _Mikra_, i.e. "Bible")
claimed the right to reject tradition and revert to the Bible as the
original source of inspiration. Such reactions against tradition are
recurrent in all religions.
Karaism, however, was not a true reaction against tradition. It replaced
an old tradition by a new one; it substituted a rigid, unprogressive
authority for one capable of growth and adaptation to changing
requirements. In the end, Karaism became so hedged in by its supposed
avoidance of tradition that it ceased to be a living force. But we are
here not concerned with the religious defects of Karaism. Regarded from
the literary side, Karaism produced a double effect. Karaism itself gave
birth to an original and splendid literature, and, on the other hand,
coming as it did at the time when Arabic science and poetry were
attaining their golden zenith, Karaism aroused within the Rabbinite
sphere a notable energy, which resulted in some of the best work of
Among the most famous of the Karaite authors was Benjamin Nahavendi, who
lived at the beginning of the ninth century, and displayed much
resolution and ability as an advocate of free-thought in religion.
Nahavendi not only wrote commentaries on the Bible, but also attempted
to write a philosophy of Judaism, being allied to Philo in the past and
to the Arabic writers in his own time. At the end of the ninth century,
Abul-Faraj Harun made a great stride forwards as an expounder of the
Bible and as an authority on Hebrew grammar.
During the ninth and tenth centuries, several Karaites revealed much
vigor and ability in their controversies with the Gaonim. In this field
the most distinguished Karaitic writers were Salman, the son of Yerucham
(885-960); Sahal, the son of Mazliach (900-950); Joseph al-Bazir
(flourished 910-930); Hassan, the son of Mashiach (930); and Japhet, the
son of Ali (950-990).
Salman, the son of Yerucham, was an active traveller; born in Egypt, he
went as a young man to Jerusalem, which he made his head-quarters for
several years, though he paid occasional visits to Babylonia and to his
native land. These journeys helped to unify the scattered Karaite
communities. Besides his Biblical works, Salman composed a poetical
treatise against the Rabbinite theories. To this book, which was written
in Hebrew, Salman gave the title, "The Wars of the Lord."
Sahal, the son of Mazliach, on the other hand, was a native of the Holy
Land, and though an eager polemical writer against the Rabbinites, he
bore a smaller part than Salman in the practical development of Karaism.
His "Hebrew Grammar" (_Sefer Dikduk_) and his Lexicon (_Leshon
Limmudim_) were very popular. Unlike the work of other Karaites, Joseph
al-Bazir's writings were philosophical, and had no philological value.
He was an adherent of the Mohammedan theological method known as the
Kalam, and wrote mostly in Arabic. Another Karaite of the same period,
Hassan, the son of Mashiach, was the one who impelled Saadiah to throw
off all reserves and enter the lists as a champion of Rabbinism. Of the
remaining Karaites of the tenth century, the foremost was Japhet, the
son of Ali, whose commentaries on the Bible represent the highest
achievements of Karaism. A large Hebrew dictionary (_Iggaron_), by a
contemporary of Japhet named David, the son of Abraham, is also a work
which was often quoted. Kirkisani, also a tenth century Karaite,
completed in the year 937 a treatise called, "The Book of Lights and the
High Beacons." In this work much valuable information is supplied as to
the history of Karaism. Despite his natural prejudices in favor of his
own sect, Kirkisani is a faithful historian, as frank regarding the
internal dissensions of the Karaites as in depicting the divergence of
views among the Rabbinites. Kirkisani's work is thus of the greatest
importance for the history of Jewish sects.
Finally, the famous Karaite Judah Hadassi (1075-1160) was a young man
when his native Jerusalem was stormed by the Crusaders in 1099. A
wanderer to Constantinople, he devoted himself to science, Hebrew
philology, and Greek literature. He utilized his wide knowledge in his
great work, "A Cluster of Cyprus Flowers" (_Eshkol ha-Kopher_), which
was completed in 1150. It is written in a series of rhymed alphabetical
acrostics. It is encyclopedic in range, and treats critically, not only
of Judaism, but also of Christianity and Islam.
Karaitic literature was produced in later centuries also, but by the end
of the twelfth century, Karaism had exhausted its originality and
fertility. One much later product of Karaism, however, deserves special
mention. Isaac Troki composed, in 1593, a work entitled "The
Strengthening of Faith" (_Chizzuk Emunah_), in which the author defended
Judaism and attacked Christianity. It was a lucid book, and as its
arguments were popularly arranged, it was very much read and used. With
this exception, Karaism produced no important work after the twelfth
On the intellectual side, therefore, Karaism was a powerful though
ephemeral movement. In several branches of science and philology the
Karaites made real additions to contemporary knowledge. But the main
service of Karaism was indirect. The Rabbinite Jews, who represented the
mass of the people, had been on the way to a scientific and
philosophical development of their own before the rise of Karaism. The
necessity of fighting Karaism with its own weapons gave a strong impetus
to the new movement in Rabbinism, and some of the best work of Saadiah
was inspired by Karaitic opposition. Before, however, we turn to the
career of Saadiah, we must consider another literary movement, which
coincided in date with the rise of Karaism, but was entirely independent
Graetz.--III, 5 (on Troki, _ibid._, IV, 18, end. M. Mocatta,
_Faith Strengthened_, London, 1851).
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 115 _seq._
W. Bacher.--_Qirqisani the Qaraite, and his Work on Jewish Sects_,
_J.Q.R._, VII, p. 687.
---- _Jehuda Hadassi's Eshkol Hakkofer_, _J.Q.R._, VIII,
S. Poznanski.--_Karaite Miscellanies_, _J.Q.R._, VIII,
THE NEW-HEBREW PIYUT
Kalirian and Spanish Piyutim (Poems).--Jannai.--Kalir.
Arabic to a large extent replaced Hebrew as the literary language of the
Jews, but Hebrew continued the language of prayer. As a mere literary
form, Rabbinic Hebrew retained a strong hold on the Jews; as a vehicle
of devotional feeling, Hebrew reigned supreme. The earliest additions to
the fixed liturgy of the Synagogue were prose-poems. They were
"Occasional Prayers" composed by the precentor for a special occasion.
An appropriate melody or chant accompanied the new hymn, and if the poem
and melody met the popular taste, both won a permanent place in the
local liturgy. The hymns were unrhymed and unmetrical, but they may have
been written in the form of alphabetical acrostics, such as appear in
the 119th and a few other Psalms.
It is not impossible that metre and rhyme grew naturally from the
Biblical Hebrew. Rhyme is unknown in the Bible, but the assonances which
occur may easily run into rhymes. Musical form is certainly present in
Hebrew poetry, though strict metres are foreign to it. As an historical
fact, however, Hebrew rhymed verse can be traced on the one side to
Syriac, on the other to Arabic influences. In the latter case the
influence was external only. Early Arabic poetry treats of war and love,
but the first Jewish rhymsters sang of peace and duty. The Arab wrote
for the camp, the Jew for the synagogue.
Two distinct types of verse, or _Piyut_ (i.e. Poetry), arose within the
Jewish circle: the ingenious and the natural. In the former, the style
is rugged and involved; a profusion of rare words and obscure allusions
meets and troubles the reader; the verse lacks all beauty of form, yet
is alive with intense spiritual force. This style is often termed
Kalirian, from the name of its best representative. The Kalirian Piyut
in the end spread chiefly to France, England, Burgundy, Lorraine,
Germany, Bohemia, Poland, Italy, Greece, and Palestine. The other type
of new-Hebrew Piyut, the Spanish, rises to higher beauties of form. It
is not free from the Kalirian faults, but it has them in a less
pronounced degree. The Spanish Piyut, in the hands of one or two
masters, becomes true poetry, poetry in form as well as in idea. The
Spanish style prevailed in Castile, Andalusia, Catalonia, Aragon,
Majorca, Provence, and in countries where Arabic influence was
Kalir was the most popular writer of the earlier type of new-Hebrew
poetry, but he was not its creator. An older contemporary of his, from
whom he derived both his diction and his method of treating poetic
subjects, was Jannai. Though we know that Jannai was a prolific writer,
only seven short examples of his verse remain. One of these is the
popular hymn, "It was at Midnight," which is still recited by "German"
Jews at the home-service on the first eve of Passover. It recounts in
order the deliverances which, according to the Midrash, were wrought for
Israel at midnight, from Abraham's victory over the four kings to the
wakefulness of Ahasuerus, the crisis of the Book of Esther. In the last
stanza is a prayer for future redemption:
Bring nigh the hour which is nor day nor night!
Most High! make known that thine is day, and
thine the night!
Make clear as day the darkness of our night!
As of old at midnight.
This form of versification, with a running refrain, afterwards became
very popular with Jewish poets. Jannai also displays the harsh
alliterations, the learned allusions to Midrash and Talmud, which were
carried to extremes by Kalir.
It is strange that it is impossible to fix with any certainty the date
at which Jannai and Kalir lived. Kalir may belong to the eighth or to
the ninth century. It is equally hard to decide as to his birth-place.
Rival theories hold that he was born in Palestine and in Sardinia. His
name has been derived from Cagliari in Sardinia and from the Latin
_calyrum_, a cake. Honey-cakes were given to Jewish children on their
first introduction to school, and the nickname "Kaliri," or "Boy of the
Cake," may have arisen from his youthful precocity. But all this is mere
It is more certain that the poet was also the singer of his own verses.
His earliest audiences were probably scholars, and this may have tempted
Kalir to indulge in the recondite learning which vitiates his hymns. At
his worst, Kalir is very bad indeed; his style is then a jumble of
words, his meaning obscure and even unintelligible. He uses a maze of
alphabetical acrostics, line by line he wreathes into his compositions
the words of successive Bible texts. Yet even at his worst he is
ingenious and vigorous. Such phrases as "to hawk it as a hawk upon a
sparrow" are at least bold and effective. Ibn Ezra later on lamented
that Kalir had treated the Hebrew language like an unfenced city. But if
the poet too freely admitted strange and ugly words, he added many of
considerable force and beauty. Kalir rightly felt that if Hebrew was to
remain a living tongue, it was absurd to restrict the language to the
vocabulary of the Bible. Hence he invented many new verbs from nouns.
But his inventiveness was less marked than his learning. "With the
permission of God, I will speak in riddles," says Kalir in opening the
prayer for dew. The riddles are mainly clever allusions to the Midrash.
It has been pointed out that these allusions are often tasteless and
obscure. But they are more often beautiful and inspiring. No Hebrew
poet in the Middle Ages was illiterate, for the poetic instinct was fed
on the fancies of the Midrash. This accounts for their lack of freshness
and originality. The poet was a scholar, and he was also a teacher. Much
of Kalir's work is didactic; it teaches the traditional explanations of
the Bible and the ritual laws for Sabbath and festivals; it provides a
convenient summary of the six hundred and thirteen precepts into which
the duties of the Law were arranged. But over and above all this the
genius of Kalir soars to poetic heights. So much has been said of
Kalir's obscurity that one quotation must, in fairness be given of Kalir
at his simplest and best. The passage is taken from a hymn sung on the
seventh day of Tabernacles, the day of the great Hosannas:
O give ear to the prayer of those who long for thy
Rejoicing before thee with the willows of the brook,
And save us now!
O redeem the vineyard which thou hast planted,
And sweep thence the strangers, and save us now!
O regard the covenant which thou hast sealed in us!
O remember for us the father who knew thee,
To whom thou, too, didst make known thy love,
And save us now!
O deal wondrously with the pure in heart
That thy providence may be seen of men, and save us now!
O lift up Zion's sunken gates from the earth,
Exalt the spot to which our eyes all turn,
And save us now!
Such hymns won for Kalir popularity, which, however, is now much on the
KALIR AND JANNAI.
Translations of Poems in Editions of the Prayer-Book, and _J.Q.R._,
VII, p. 460; IX, p. 291.
L.N. Dembitz,--_Jewish Services_, p. 222 _seq._
SAADIAH OF FAYUM
Translation of the Bible into Arabic.--Foundation of a Jewish
Philosophy of Religion.
Saadiah was born in Fayum (Egypt) in 892, and died in Sura in 942. He
was the founder of a new literature. In width of culture he excelled all
his Jewish contemporaries. To him Judaism was synonymous with culture,
and therefore he endeavored to absorb for Judaism all the literary and
scientific tendencies of his day. He created, in the first place, a
Jewish philosophy, that is to say, he applied to Jewish theology the
philosophical methods of the Arabs. Again, though he vigorously opposed
Karaism, he adopted its love of philology, and by his translation of the
Bible into Arabic helped forward a sounder understanding of the
At the age of thirty-six Saadiah received a remarkable honor; he was
summoned to Sura to fill the post of Gaon. This election of a foreigner
as head of the Babylonian school proves, first, that Babylonia had lost
its old supremacy, and, secondly, that Saadiah had already won
world-wide fame. Yet the great work on which his reputation now rests
was not then written. Saadiah's notoriety was due to his successful
championship of Rabbinism against the Karaites. His determination, his
learning, his originality, were all discernible in his early treatises
against Anan and his followers. The Rabbinites had previously opposed
Karaism in a guerilla warfare. Saadiah came into the open, and met and
vanquished the foe in pitched battles. But he did more than defeat the
invader, he strengthened the home defences. Saadiah's polemical works
have always a positive as well as a negative value. He wished to prove
Karaism wrong, but he also tried to show that Rabbinism was right.
As a champion of Rabbinism, then, Saadiah was called to Sura. But he had
another claim to distinction. The Karaites founded their position on the
Bible. Saadiah resolved that the appeal to the Bible should not be
restricted to scholars. He translated the Scriptures into Arabic, and
added notes. Saadiah's qualifications for the task were his knowledge of
Hebrew, his fine critical sense, and his enlightened attitude towards
the Midrash. As to the first qualification, it is said that at the age
of eleven he had begun a Hebrew rhyming dictionary for the use of poets.
He himself added several hymns to the liturgy. In these Saadiah's
poetical range is very varied. Sometimes his style is as pure and simple
as the most classical poems of the Spanish school. At other times, his
verses have all the intricacy, harshness, and artificiality of Kalir's.
Perhaps his mastery of Hebrew is best seen in his "Book of the Exiled"
(_Sefer ha-Galui_), compiled in Biblical Hebrew, divided into verses,
and provided with accents. As the title indicates, this book was written
during Saadiah's exile from Sura.
Saadiah's Arabic version of the Scriptures won such favor that it was
read publicly in the synagogues. Of old the Targum, or Aramaic version,
had been read in public worship together with the original Hebrew. Now,
however, the Arabic began to replace the Targum. Saadiah's version well
deserved its honor.
Saadiah brought a hornet's nest about his head by his renewed attacks on
Karaism, contained in his commentary to Genesis. But the call to Sura
turned Saadiah's thoughts in another direction. He found the famous
college in decay. The Exilarchs, the nominal heads of the whole of the
Babylonian Jews, were often unworthy of their position, and it was not
long before Saadiah came into conflict with the Exilarch. The struggle
ended in the Gaon's exile from Sura. During his years of banishment, he
produced his greatest works. He arranged a prayer-book, wrote Talmudical
essays, compiled rules for the calendar, examined the Massoretic works
of various authors, and, indeed, produced a vast array of books, all of
them influential and meritorious. But his most memorable writings were
his "Commentary on the Book of Creation" (_Sefer Yetsirah_) and his
masterpiece, "Faith and Philosophy" (_Emunoth ve-Deoth_).
This treatise, finished in the year 934, was the first systematic
attempt to bring revealed religion into harmony with Greek philosophy.
Saadiah was thus the forerunner, not only of Maimonides, but also of the
Christian school-men. No Jew, said Saadiah, should discard the Bible,
and form his opinions solely by his own reasoning. But he might safely
endeavor to prove, independently of revelation, the truths which
revelation had given. Faith, said Saadiah again, is the sours absorption
of the essence of a truth, which thus becomes part of itself, and will
be the motive of conduct whenever the occasion arises. Thus Saadiah
identified reason with faith. He ridiculed the fear that philosophy
leads to scepticism. You might as well, he argued, identify astronomy
with superstition, because some deluded people believe that an eclipse
of the moon is caused by a dragon's making a meal of it.
For the last few years of his life Saadiah was reinstated in the Gaonate
at Sura. The school enjoyed a new lease of fame under the brilliant
direction of the author of the great work just described. After his
death the inevitable decay made itself felt. Under the Moorish caliphs,
Spain had become a centre of Arabic science, art, and poetry. In the
tenth century, Cordova attained fame similar to that which Athens and
Alexandria had once reached. In Moorish Spain, there was room both for
earnest piety and the sensuous delights of music and art; and the keen
exercise of the intellect in science or philosophy did not debar the
possession of practical statesmanship and skill in affairs. In the
service of the caliphs were politicians who were also doctors, poets,
philosophers, men of science. Possession of culture was, indeed, a sure
credential for employment by the state. It was to Moorish Spain that the
centre of Judaism shifted after the death of Saadiah. It was in Spain
that the finest fruit of Jewish literature in the post-Biblical period
grew. Here the Jewish genius expanded beneath the sunshine of Moorish
culture. To Moses, the son of Chanoch, an envoy from Babylonia, belongs
the honor of founding a new school in Cordova. In this he had the
support of the scholar-statesman Chasdai, the first of a long line of
medieval Jews who earned double fame, as servants of their country and
as servants of their own religion. To Chasdai we must now turn.
Schiller-Szinessy.--_Encycl. Brit._, Vol. XXI, p. 120.
M. Friedlšnder.--_Life and Works of Saadia_. _J.Q.R._,
Vol. V, p. 177.
Saadiah's Philosophy (Owen), _J.Q.R._, Vol. III, p. 192.
Grammar and Polemics (Rosin), _J.Q.R._, Vol. VI, p. 475;
(S. Poznanski) _ibid._, Vol. IX, p. 238.
E.H. Lindo.--_History of the Jews of Spain and Portugal_
DAWN OF THE SPANISH ERA
Chasdai Ibn Shaprut.--Menachem and Dunash, Chayuj and
Janach.--Samuel the Nagid.
If but a small part of what Hebrew poets sang concerning Chasdai Ibn
Shaprut be literal fact, he was indeed a wonderful figure. His career
set the Jewish imagination aflame. Charizi, in the thirteenth century,
wrote of Chasdai thus:
In southern Spain, in days gone by,
The sun of fame rose up on high:
Chasdai it was, the prince, who gave
Rich gifts to all who came to crave.
Science rolled forth her mighty waves,
Laden with gems from hidden caves,
Till wisdom like an island stood,
The precious outcome of the flood.
Here thirsting spirits still might find
Knowledge to satisfy the mind.
Their prince's favor made new day
For those who slept their life away.
They who had lived so long apart
Confessed a bond, a common heart,
From Christendom and Moorish lands,
From East, from West, from distant strands.
His favor compassed each and all.
Girt by the shelter of his grace,
Lit by the glory of his face,
Knowledge held their heart in thrall.
He showed the source of wisdom and her springs,
And God's anointment made them more than kings.
His goodness made the dumb to speak his name,
Yea, stubborn hearts were not unyielding long;
And bards the starry splendor of his fame
Mirrored in lucent current of their song.
This Chasdai, the son of Isaac, of the family of Shaprut (915-970), was
a physician and a statesman. He was something of a poet and linguist
besides; not much of a poet, for his eulogists say little of his verses;
and not much of a linguist, for he employed others (among them Menachem,
the son of Zaruk, the grammarian) to write his Hebrew letters for him.
But he was enough of a scholar to appreciate learning in others, and as
a patron of literature he placed himself in the front of the new Jewish
development in Spain. From Babylonia he was hailed as the head of the
school in Cordova. At his palatial abode was gathered all that was best
in Spanish Judaism. He was the patron of the two great grammarians of
the day, Menachem, the son of Zaruk, and his rival and critic, Dunash,
the son of Labrat. These grammarians fought out their literary disputes
in verses dedicated to Chasdai. Witty satires were written by the
friends of both sides. Sparkling epigrams were exchanged in the
rose-garden of Chasdai's house, and were read at the evening assemblies
of poets, merchants, and courtiers. It was Chasdai who brought both the
rivals to Cordova, Menachem from Tortosa and Dunash from Fez. Menachem
was the founder of scientific Hebrew grammar; Dunash, more lively but
less scholarly, initiated the art of writing metrical Hebrew verses. The
successors of these grammarians, Judah Chayuj and Abulwalid Merwan Ibn
Janach (eleventh century), completed what Menachem and Dunash had begun,
and placed Hebrew philology on a firm scientific basis.
Thus, with Chasdai a new literary era dawned for Judaism. His person,
his glorious position, his liberal encouragement of poetry and learning,
opened the sealed-up lips of the Hebrew muse. As a contemporary said of
The grinding yoke from Israel's neck he tore,
Deep in his soul his people's love he bore.
The sword that thirsted for their blood he brake,
And cold oppression melted for his sake.
For God sent Chasdai Israel's heart to move
Once more to trust, once more his God to love.
Chasdai did not confine his efforts on behalf of his brethren to the
Jews of Spain. Ambition and sympathy made him extend his affection to
the Jews of all the world. He interviewed the captains of ships, he
conversed with foreign envoys concerning the Jews of other lands. He
entered into a correspondence with the Chazars, Jews by adoption, not by
race. It is not surprising that the influence of Chasdai survived him.
Under the next two caliphs, Cordova continued the centre of a cultured
life and literature. Thither flocked, not only the Chazars, but also the
descendants of the Babylonian Princes of the Captivity and other men of
Half a century after Chasdai's death, Samuel Ibn Nagdela (993-1055)
stood at the head of the Jewish community in Granada. Samuel, called the
Nagid, or Prince, started life as a druggist in Malaga. His fine
handwriting came to the notice of the vizier, and Samuel was appointed
private secretary. His talents as a statesman were soon discovered, and
he was made first minister to Habus, the ruler of Granada. Once a Moor
insulted him, and King Habus advised his favorite to cut out the
offender's tongue. But Samuel treated his reviler with much kindness,
and one day King Habus and Samuel passed the same Moor. "He blesses you
now," said the astonished king, "whom he used to curse."
"Ah!" replied Samuel, "I did as you advised. I cut out his angry
tongue, and put a kind one there instead."
Samuel was not only vizier, he was also Rabbi. His knowledge of the
Rabbinical literature was profound, and his "Introduction to the Talmud"
(_Mebo ha-Talmud_) is still a standard work. He expended much labor and
money on collecting the works of the Gaonim. The versatility of Samuel
was extraordinary. From the palace he would go to the school; after
inditing a despatch he would compose a hymn; he would leave a reception
of foreign diplomatists to discuss intricate points of Rabbinical law or
examine the latest scientific discoveries. As a poet, his muse was that
of the town, not of the field. But though he wrote no nature poems, he
resembled the ancient Hebrew Psalmists in one striking feature. He sang
new songs of thanksgiving over his own triumphs, uttered laments on his
own woes, but there is an impersonal note in these songs as there is in
the similar lyrics of the Psalter. His individual triumphs and woes
were merged in the triumphs and woes of his people. In all, Samuel added
some thirty new hymns to the liturgy of the Synagogue. But his muse was
as versatile as his mind. Samuel also wrote some stirring wine songs.
The marvellous range of his powers helped him to complete what Chasdai
had begun. The centre of Judaism became more firmly fixed than ever in
Spain. When Samuel the Nagid died in 1055, the golden age of Spanish
literature was in sight. Above the horizon were rising in a glorious
constellation, Solomon Ibn Gebirol, the Ibn Ezras, and Jehuda Halevi.
Graetz,--III, p. 215 .
DUNASH AND MENACHEM.
Graetz.--III, p. 223 .
_Encycl. Brit._, Vol. XIII, p. 737.
M. Jastrow, Jr.--_The Weak and Geminative Verbs in Hebrew by
HayyŻg_ (Leyden, 1897).
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 131.
_Letter of Chasdai to Chazars_ (Engl. transl. by Zedner,
_Miscellany of the Society of Hebrew Literature_, Vol. I).
Graetz.--III, p. 138 .
SAMUEL IBN NAGDELA.
Graetz,--III, p, 254 .
THE SPANISH-JEWISH POETS (I)
Solomon Ibn Gebirol.--"The Royal Crown."--Moses Ibn
Ezra.--Abraham Ibn Ezra.--The Biblical Commentaries of Ibn Ezra
and the Kimchis.
"In the days of Chasdai," says Charizi, "the Hebrew poets began to
sing." We have seen that the new-Hebrew poetry was older than Chasdai,
but Charizi's assertion is true. The Hebrew poets of Spain are
melodious, and Kalir is only ingenious. Again, it was in Spain that
Hebrew was first used for secular poetry, for love songs and ballads,
for praises of nature, for the expression of all human feelings. In most
of this the poets found their models in the Bible. When Jehuda Halevi
sang in Hebrew of love, he echoed the "Song of Songs." When Moses Ibn
Ezra wrote penitential hymns, or Ibn Gebirol divine meditations, the
Psalms were ever before them as an inspiration. The poets often devoted
all their ambition to finding apt quotations from the sacred text. But
in one respect they failed to imitate the Bible, and this failure
seriously cramped their genius. The poetry of the Bible depends for its
beauty partly on its form. This form is what is called _parallelism of
line_. The fine musical effect produced by repeating as an echo the idea
already expressed is lost in the poetry of the Spanish Jews.
Thus Spanish-Jewish poetry suffers, on the one side, because it is an
imitation of the Bible, and therefore lacks originality, and on the
other side it suffers, because it does not sufficiently imitate the
Biblical style. In spite of these limitations, it is real poetry. In the
Psalms there is deep sympathy for the wilder and more awful phenomena of
nature. In the poetry of the Spanish Jews, nature is loved in her
gentler moods. One of these poets, Nahum, wrote prettily of his garden;
another, Ibn Gebirol, sang of autumn; Jehuda Halevi, of spring. Again,
in their love songs there is freshness. There is in them a quaint
blending of piety and love; they do not say that beauty is a vain thing,
but they make beauty the mark of a God-fearing character. There is an
un-Biblical lightness of touch, too, in their songs of life in the city,
their epigrams, their society verses. And in those of their verses which
most resemble the Bible, the passionate odes to Zion by Jehuda Halevi,
the sublime meditations of Ibn Gebirol, the penitential prayers of Moses
Ibn Ezra, though the echoes of the Bible are distinct enough, yet amid
the echoes there sounds now and again the fresh, clear voice of the
Solomon Ibn Gebirol was born in Malaga in 1021, and died in 1070. His
early life was unhappy, and his poetry is tinged with melancholy. But
his unhappiness only gave him a fuller hope in God. As he writes in his
greatest poem, he would fly from God to God:
From thee to thee I fly to win
A place of refuge, and within
Thy shadow from thy anger hide,
Until thy wrath be turned aside.
Unto thy mercy I will cling,
Until thou hearken pitying;
Nor will I quit my hold of thee,
Until thy blessing light on me.
These lines occur in Gebirol's "Royal Crown" (_Kether Malchuth_) a
glorious series of poems on God and the world. In this, the poet pours
forth his heart even more unreservedly than in his philosophical
treatise, "The Fountain of Life," or in his ethical work, "The
Ennoblement of Character," or in his compilation from the wisdom of the
past, "The Choice of Pearls" (if, indeed, this last book be his). The
"Royal Crown" is a diadem of praises of the greatness of God, praises to
utter which make man, with all his insignificance, great.
Wondrous are thy works, O Lord of hosts,
And their greatness holds my soul in thrall.
Thine the glory is, the power divine,
Thine the majesty, the kingdom thine,
Thou supreme, exalted over all.
* * * * *
Thou art One, the first great cause of all;
Thou art One, and none can penetrate,
Not even the wise in heart, the mystery
Of thy unfathomable Unity;
Thou art One, the infinitely great.
But man can perceive that the power of God makes him great to pardon. If
he see it not now, he will hereafter.
Thou art light: pure souls shall thee behold,
Save when mists of evil intervene.
Thou art light, that, in this world concealed,
In the world to come shall be revealed;
In the mount of God it shall be seen.
And so the poet in one of the final hymns of the "Royal Crown," filled
with a sense of his own unworthiness, hopefully abandons himself to God:
My God, I know that those who plead
To thee for grace and mercy need
All their good works should go before,
And wait for them at heaven's high door.
But no good deeds have I to bring,
No righteousness for offering.
No service for my Lord and King.
Yet hide not thou thy face from me,
Nor cast me out afar from thee;
But when thou bidd'st my life to cease,
O may'st thou lead me forth in peace
Unto the world to come, to dwell
Among thy pious ones, who tell
Thy glories inexhaustible.
There let my portion be with those
Who to eternal life arose;
There purify my heart aright,
In thy light to behold the light.
Raise me from deepest depths to share
Heaven's endless joys of praise and prayer,
That I may evermore declare:
Though thou wast angered, Lord, I will give thanks to thee,
For past is now thy wrath, and thou dost comfort me.
Ibn Gebirol stood a little outside and a good deal above the circle of
the Jewish poets who made this era so brilliant. Many of them are now
forgotten; they had their day of popularity in Toledo, Cordova, Seville,
and Granada, but their poems have not survived.
In the very year of Ibn Gebirol's death Moses Ibn Ezra was born. Of his
life little is certain, but it is known that he was still alive in
1138. He is called the "poet of penitence," and a gloomy turn was given
to his thought by an unhappy love attachment in his youth. A few stanzas
of one of his poems run thus:
Sleepless, upon my bed the hours I number,
And, rising, seek the house of God, while slumber
Lies heavy on men's eyes, and dreams encumber
Their souls in visions of the night.
In sin and folly passed my early years,
Wherefore I am ashamed, and life's arrears
Now strive to pay, the while my tears
Have been my food by day and night.
* * * * *
Short is man's life, and full of care and sorrow,
This way and that he turns some ease to borrow,
Like to a flower he blooms, and on the morrow
Is gone--a vision of the night.
How does the weight of sin my soul oppress,
Because God's law too often I transgress;
I mourn and sigh, with tears of bitterness
My bed I water all the night.
* * * * *
My youth wanes like a shadow that's cast,
Swifter than eagle's wings my years fly fast,
And I remember not my gladness past,
Either by day or yet by night.
Proclaim we then a fast, a holy day,
Make pure our hearts from sin, God's will obey,
And unto him, with humbled spirit pray
Unceasingly, by day and night.
May we yet hear his words: "Thou art my own,
My grace is thine, the shelter of my throne,
For I am thy Redeemer, I alone;
Endure but patiently this night!"
But his hymns, many of which won a permanent place in the prayer-book,
are not always sad. Often they are warm with hope, and there is a lilt
about them which is almost gay. His chief secular poem, "The Topaz"
(_Tarshish_), is in ten parts, and contains 1210 lines. It is written on
an Arabic model: it contains no rhymes, but is metrical, and the same
word, with entirely different meanings, occurs at the end of several
lines. It needs a good deal of imagination to appreciate Moses Ibn Ezra,
and this is perhaps what Charizi meant when he called him "the poet's
Another Ibn Ezra, Abraham, one of the greatest Jews of the Middle Ages,
was born in Toledo before 1100. He passed a hard life, but he laughed at
his fate. He said of himself:
If I sold shrouds,
No one would die.
If I sold lamps,
Then, in the sky,
The sun, for spite,
Would shine by night.
Several of Abraham Ibn Ezra's hymns are instinct with the spirit of
resignation. Here is one of them:
I hope for the salvation of the Lord,
In him I trust, when fears my being thrill,
Come life, come death, according to his word,
He is my portion still.
Hence, doubting heart! I will the Lord extol
With gladness, for in him is my desire,
Which, as with fatness, satisfies my soul,
That doth to heaven aspire.
All that is hidden shall mine eyes behold,
And the great Lord of all be known to me,
Him will I serve, his am I as of old;
I ask not to be free.
Sweet is ev'n sorrow coming in his name,
Nor will I seek its purpose to explore,
His praise will I continually proclaim,
And bless him evermore.
Ibn Ezra wandered over many lands, and even visited London, where he
stayed in 1158. Ibn Ezra was famed, not only for his poetry, but also
for his brilliant wit and many-sided learning. As a mathematician, as a
poet, as an expounder of Scriptures, he won a high place in Jewish
annals. In his commentaries he rejected the current digressive and
allegorical methods, and steered a middle course between free research
on the one hand, and blind adherence to tradition on the other. Ibn Ezra
was the first to maintain that the Book of Isaiah contains the work of
two prophets--a view now almost universal. He never for a moment
doubted, however, that the Bible was in every part inspired and in every
part the word of God. But he was also the father of the "Higher
Criticism." Ibn Ezra's pioneer work in spreading scientific methods of
study in France was shared by Joseph Kimchi, who settled in Narbonne in
the middle of the twelfth century. His sons, Moses and David, were
afterwards famous as grammarians and interpreters of the Scriptures.
David Kimchi (1160-1235) by his lucidity and thoroughness established
for his grammar, "Perfection" (_Michlol_), and his dictionary, "Book of
Roots," complete supremacy in the field of exegesis. He was the favorite
authority of the Christian students of Hebrew at the time of the
Reformation, and the English Authorized Version of 1611 owed much to
At this point, however, we must retrace our steps, and cast a glance at
Hebrew literature in France at a period earlier than the era of Ibn
TRANSLATIONS OF SPANISH-HEBREW POEMS:
Emma Lazarus.--_Poems_ (Boston, 1889).
Mrs. H. Lucas.--_The Jewish Year_ (New York, 1898), and in
Editions of the Prayer-Books. See also (Abrahams) _J.Q.R._,
XI, p. 64.
D. Rosin.--_The Ethics of Solomon Ibn Gebirol_, 7. _J.Q.R._,
III, p. 159.
MOSES IBN EZRA.
Graetz.--III, p. 319 .
ABRAHAM IBN EZRA.
Graetz.--III, p. 366 .
Abraham Ibn Ezra's Commentary on Isaiah (tr. by M. Friedlšnder, 1873).
M. Friedlšnder.--_Essays on Ibn Ezra_ (London, 1877). See also
_Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England_,
Vol. II, p. 47, and J. Jacobs, _Jews of Angevin England_,
p. 29 _seq._
Graetz.--III, p. 392 .
SPANISH-JEWISH EXEGESIS AND POETRY.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, pp. 141, 146-179.
RASHI AND ALFASSI
Nathan of Rome.--Alfassi.--Rashi.--Rashbam.
Before Hebrew poets, scientists, philosophers, and statesmen had made
Spain famous in Jewish annals, Rashi and his school were building up a
reputation destined to associate Jewish learning with France. In France
there was none of the width of culture which distinguished Spain. Rashi
did not shine as anything but an exponent of traditional Judaism. He
possessed no graces of style, created no new literature. But he
represented Judaism at its simplest, its warmest, its intensest. Rashi
was a great writer because his subject was great, not because he wrote
But it is only a half-truth to assert that Rashi had no graces of style.
For, if grace be the quality of producing effects with the least
display of effort, then there was no writer more graceful than Rashi.
His famous Commentary on the Talmud is necessarily long and intricate,
but there is never a word too much. No commentator on any classic ever
surpassed Rashi in the power of saying enough and only enough. He owed
this faculty in the first place to his intellectual grasp. He edited the
Talmud as well as explained it. He restored the original text with the
surest of critical instincts. And his conscience was in his work. So
thoroughly honest was he that, instead of slurring over difficulties, he
frankly said: "I cannot understand ... I do not know," in the rare cases
in which he was at a loss. Rashi moreover possessed that wondrous
sympathy with author and reader which alone qualifies a third mind to
interpret author to reader. Probing the depth of the Talmud, Rashi
probed the depth of the learned student, and realized the needs of the
beginner. Thus the beginner finds Rashi useful, and the specialist
turns to him for help. His immediate disciples rarely quote him by name;
to them he is "_the_ Commentator."
Rashi was not the first to subject the Talmud to critical analysis. The
Gaonim had begun the task, and Nathan, the son of Yechiel of Rome,
compiled, in about the year 1000, a dictionary (_Aruch_) which is still
the standard work of reference. But Rashi's nearest predecessor,
Alfassi, was not an expounder of the Talmud; he extracted, with much
skill, the practical results from the logical mazes in which they were
enveloped. Isaac, the son of Jacob Alfassi, derived his name from Fez,
where he was born in 1013. He gave his intellect entirely to the Talmud,
but he acquired from the Moorish culture of his day a sense of order and
system. He dealt exclusively with the _Halachah_, or practical contents
of the Rabbinic law, and the guide which he compiled to the Talmud soon
superseded all previous works of its kind. Solomon, the son of Isaac,
best known as _R_abbi _Sh_elomo _Iz_chaki (Rashi), was born in 1040, and
died in 1105, in Troyes, in Champagne. From his mother, who came of a
family of poets, he inherited his warm humanity, his love for Judaism.
From his father, he drew his Talmudical knowledge, his keen intellect.
His youth was a hard one. In accordance with medieval custom, he was
married as a boy, and then left his home in search of knowledge rather
than of bread. Of bread he had little, but, starved and straitened in
circumstances though he was, he became an eager student at the Jewish
schools which then were dotted along the Rhine, residing now at Mainz,
now at Speyer, now at Worms. In 1064 he settled finally in Troyes. Here
he was at once hailed as a new light in Israel. His spotless character
and his unique reputation as a teacher attracted a vast number of eager
Of Rashi's Commentary on the Talmud something has already been said. As
to his exposition of the Bible, it soon acquired the widest popularity.
It was inferior to his work on the Talmud, for, as he himself admitted
in later life, he had relied too much on the Midrash, and had attended
too little to evolving the literal meaning of the text of Scripture. But
this is the charm of his book, and it is fortunate that he did not
actually attempt to recast his commentary. There is a quaintness and
fascination about it which are lacking in the pedantic sobriety of Ibn
Ezra and the grammatical exactness of Kimchi. But he did himself less
than justice when he asserted that he had given insufficient heed to the
_Peshat_ (literal meaning). Rashi often quotes the grammatical works of
Menachem and Dunash. He often translates the Hebrew into French, showing
a very exact knowledge of both languages. Besides, when he cites the
Midrash, he, as it were, constructs a Peshat out of it, and this method,
original to himself, found no capable imitators.
Through the fame of Rashi, France took the leadership in matters
Talmudical. Blessed with a progeny of famous men, Rashi's influence was
carried on and increased by the work of his sons-in-law and grandsons.
Of these, Samuel ben Meir (Rashbam, 1100-1160) was the most renowned.
The devoted attention to the literature of Judaism in the Rhinelands
came in the nick of time. It was a firm rock against the storm which was
about to break. The Crusades crushed out from the Jews of France all
hope of temporal happiness. When Alfassi died in 1103 and Rashi in 1105,
the first Crusade had barely spent its force. The Jewish schools in
France were destroyed, the teachers and scholars massacred or exiled.
But the spirit lived on. Their literature was life to the Jews, who had
no other life. His body bent over Rashi's illuminating expositions of
the Talmud and the Bible, the medieval Jew felt his soul raised above
the miseries of the present to a world of peace and righteousness, where
the wicked ceased from troubling, and the weary were at rest.
ALFASSI AND RASHI.
Graetz.--III, p. 285  _seq._
I.H. Weiss.--_J.Q.R._, I, p. 290.
Schiller-Szinessy.--_Encycl. Brit._, Vol. XX, p. 284.
THE SPANISH-JEWISH POETS (II)
Turning once more to the brighter condition of Jewish literature in
Spain, we reach a man upon whom the whole vocabulary of praise and
affection has been exhausted; a man of magnetic attractiveness, whom
contemporaries and successors have agreed to admire and to love. Jehuda
Halevi was born in Toledo about 1085, the year in which Alfonso VI
recaptured the city from the Moors. It was a fit birth-place for the
greatest Jewish poet since Bible times. East and West met in Toledo. The
science of the East there found Western Christians to cultivate it. Jew,
Moor, and Christian displayed there mutual toleration which existed
nowhere else. In the midst of this favorable environment Jehuda Halevi
grew to early maturity. As a boy he won more than local fame as a
versifier. At all festive occasions his verses were in demand. He wrote
wedding odes, elegies on great men, eulogies of the living. His love
poems, serenades, epigrams of this period, all display taste, elegance,
The second period of Jehuda Halevi's literary career was devoted to
serious pursuits, to thoughts about life, and to practical work. He
wrote his far-famed philosophical dialogue, the _Cuzari_, and earned his
living as a physician. He was not an enthusiastic devotee to medicine,
however. "Toledo is large," he wrote to a friend, "and my patients are
hard masters. I, their slave, spend my days in serving their will, and
consume my years in healing their infirmities." Before making up a
prescription, he, like Sir Thomas Browne, used to say a prayer in which
he confessed that he had no great faith in the healing powers of his
art. Jehuda Halevi was, indeed, dissatisfied with his life altogether.
"My heart is in the East, but I am sunk in the West," he lamented. He
was unhappy because his beloved was far from him; his lady-love was
beyond the reach of his earnest gaze. In Heine's oft-quoted words,
She for whom the Rabbi languished
Was a woe-begone poor darling,
Desolation's very image,
And her name--Jerusalem.
The eager passion for one sight of Jerusalem grew on him, and dominated
the third portion of his life. At length nothing could restrain him; go
he would, though he die in the effort. And go he did, and die he did in
the effort. The news of his determination spread through Spain, and
everywhere hands were held out to restrain him. But his heart lightened
as the day of departure came. His poems written at this time are hopeful
and full of cheery feeling. In Egypt, a determined attempt was made by
the Jews to keep him among them. But it was vain. Onward to Jerusalem:
this was his one thought. He tarried in Egypt but a short while, then he
passed to Tyre and Damascus. At Damascus, in the year 1140 or
thereabouts, he wrote the ode to Zion which made his name immortal, an
ode in which he gave vent to all the intense passion which filled his
soul. The following are some stanzas taken from this address to
The glory of the Lord has been alway
Thy sole and perfect light;
Thou needest not the sun to shine by day,
Nor moon and stars to illumine thee by night.
I would that, where God's spirit was of yore
Poured out unto thy holy ones, I might
There too my soul outpour!
The house of kings and throne of God wert thou,
How comes it then that now
Slaves fill the throne where sat thy kings before?
Oh! who will lead me on
To seek the spots where, in far distant years,
The angels in their glory dawned upon
Thy messengers and seers?
Oh! who will give me wings
That I may fly away,
And there, at rest from all my wanderings,
The ruins of my heart among thy ruins lay?
* * * * *
The Lord desires thee for his dwelling-place
Eternally, and bless'd
Is he whom God has chosen for the grace
Within thy courts to rest.
Happy is he that watches, drawing near,
Until he sees thy glorious lights arise,
And over whom thy dawn breaks full and clear
Set in the orient skies.
But happiest he, who, with exultant eyes,
The bliss of thy redeemed ones shall behold,
And see thy youth renewed as in the days of old.
Soon after writing this Jehuda arrived near the Holy City. He was by her
side at last, by the side of his beloved. Then, legend tells us, through
a gate an Arab horseman dashed forth: he raised his spear, and slew the
poet, who fell at the threshold of his dear Jerusalem, with a song of
Zion on his lips.
The new-Hebrew poetry did not survive him. Persecution froze the current
of the Jewish soul. Poets, indeed, arose after Jehuda Halevi in Germany
as in Spain. Sometimes, as in the hymns of the "German" Meir of
Rothenburg, a high level of passionate piety is reached. But it has well
been said that "the hymns of the Spanish writers link man's soul to his
Maker: the hymns of the Germans link Israel to his God." Only in Spain
Hebrew poetry was universal, in the sense in which the Psalms are
universal. Even in Spain itself, the death of Jehuda Halevi marked the
close of this higher inspiration. The later Spanish poets, Charizi and
Zabara (middle and end of the twelfth century), were satirists rather
than poets, witty, sparkling, ready with quaint quips, but local and
imitative in manner and subject. Zabara must receive some further notice
in a later chapter because of his connection with medieval folk-lore. Of
Charizi's chief work, the _Tachkemoni_, it may be said that it is
excellent of its type. The stories which it tells in unmetrical rhyme
are told in racy style, and its criticisms on men and things are clever
and striking. As a literary critic also Charizi ranks high, and there is
much skill in the manner in which he links together, round the person of
his hero, the various narratives which compose the _Tachkemoni_. The
experiences he relates are full of humor and surprises. As a
phrase-maker, Charizi was peculiarly happy, his command of Hebrew being
masterly. But his most conspicuous claim to high rank lies in his
origination of that blending of grim irony with bright wit which became
characteristic of all Jewish humorists, and reached its climax in Heine.
But Charizi himself felt that his art as a Hebrew poet was decadent.
Great poets of Jewish race have risen since, but the songs they have
sung have not been songs of Zion, and the language of their muse has not
been the language of the Hebrew Bible.
J. Jacobs.--_Jehuda Halevi, Poet and Pilgrim_ (_Jewish
Ideals_, New York, 1896, p. 103).
Lady Magnus.--_Jewish Portraits_ (Boston, 1889), p. 1.
TRANSLATIONS OF HIS POETRY by Emma Lazarus and Mrs. Lucas
(_op. cit._): Editions of the Prayer-Book; also _J.Q.R._,
X, pp. 117, 626; VII, p. 464; _Treasurers of Oxford_ (London,
1850); I. Abrahams, _Jewish Life in the Middle Ages_, chs. 7, 9
HIS PHILOSOPHY: _Specimen of the Cusari_, translated by A.
Neubauer (_Miscellany of the Society of Hebrew Literature_,
Vol. I). John Owen.--_J.Q.R._, III, p. 199.
Graetz.--III, p. 559 
Karpeles.---_Jewish Literature and other Essays_,
p. 210 _seq._
M. Sachs.--_Hebrew Review_, Vol. I.
Maimon, Rambam = R. Moses, the son of Maimon, Maimonides.--His
Yad Hachazaka and Moreh Nebuchim.--Gersonides.--Crescas.--Albo.
The greatest Jew of the Middle Ages, Moses, the son of Maimon, was born
in Cordova, in 1135, and died in Fostat in 1204. His father Maimon was
himself an accomplished scientist and an enlightened thinker, and the
son was trained in the many arts and sciences then included in a liberal
education. When Moses was thirteen years old, Cordova fell into the
hands of the Almohades, a sect of Mohammedans, whose creed was as pure
as their conduct was fanatical. Jews and Christians were forced to
choose conversion to Islam, exile, or death. Maimon fled with his
family, and, after an interval of troubled wanderings and painful
privations, they settled in Fez, where they found the Almohades equally
powerful and equally vindictive. Maimon and his son were compelled to
assume the outward garb of Mohammedanism for a period of five years.
From Fez the family emigrated in 1165 to Palestine, and, after a long
period of anxiety, Moses Maimonides settled in Egypt, in Fostat, or Old
In Egypt, another son of Maimon, David, traded in precious stones, and
supported his learned brother. When David was lost at sea, Maimonides
earned a living as a physician. His whole day was occupied in his
profession, yet he contrived to work at his books during the greater
part of the night. His minor works would alone have brought their author
fame. His first great work was completed in 1168. It was a Commentary on
the Mishnah, and was written in Arabic. But Maimonides' reputation rests
mainly on two books, the one written for the many, the other for the
few. The former is his "Strong Hand" (_Yad Hachazaka_), the latter his
"Guide of the Perplexed" (_Moreh Nebuchim_).
The "Strong Hand" was a gigantic undertaking. In its fourteen books
Maimonides presented a clearly-arranged and clearly-worded summary of
the Rabbinical Halachah, or Law. In one sense it is an encyclopedia, but
it is an encyclopedia written with style. For its power to grapple with
vast materials, this code has few rivals and no superiors in other
literatures. Maimonides completed its compilation in 1180, having spent
ten years over it. During the whole of that time, he was not only a
popular doctor, but also official Rabbi of Cairo. He received no salary
from the community, for he said, "Better one penny earned by the work of
one's hands, than all the revenues of the Prince of the Captivity, if
derived from fees for teaching or acting as Rabbi." The "Strong Hand,"
called also "Deuteronomy" (_Mishneh Torah_), sealed the reputation of
Maimonides for all time. Maimonides was indeed attacked, first, because
he asserted that his work was intended to make a study of the Talmud
less necessary, and secondly, because he gave no authorities for his
statements, but decided for himself which Talmudical opinions to accept,
which to reject. But the severest scrutiny found few real blemishes and
fewer actual mistakes. "From Moses to Moses there arose none like
Moses," was a saying that expressed the general reverence for
Maimonides. Copies of the book were made everywhere; the Jewish mind
became absorbed in it; his fame and his name "rang from Spain to India,
from the sources of the Tigris to South Arabia." Eulogies were showered
on him from all parts of the earth. And no praise can say more for this
marvellous man than the fact that the incense burned at his shrine did
not intoxicate him. His touch became firmer, his step more resolute.
But he went on his way as before, living simply and laboring
incessantly, unmoved by the thunders of applause, unaffected by the
feebler echoes of calumny. He corresponded with his brethren far and
near, answered questions as Rabbi, explained passages in his Commentary
on the Mishnah or his other writings, entered heartily into the
controversies of the day, discussed the claims of a new aspirant to the
dignity of Messiah, encouraged the weaker brethren who fell under
disfavor because they had been compelled to become pretended converts to
Islam, showed common-sense and strong intellectual grasp in every line
he wrote, and combined in his dealings with all questions the rarely
associated qualities, toleration and devotion to the truth. Yet he felt
that his life's work was still incomplete. He loved truth, but truth for
him had two aspects: there was truth as revealed by God, there was truth
which God left man to discover for himself. In the mind of Maimonides,
Moses and Aristotle occupied pedestals side by side. In the "Strong
Hand," he had codified and given orderly arrangement to Judaism as
revealed in Bible and tradition; he would now examine its relations to
reason, would compare its results with the data of philosophy. This he
did in his "Guide of the Perplexed" (_Moreh Nebuchim_). Maimonides here
differed fundamentally from his immediate predecessors. Jehuda Halevi,
in his _Cuzari_, was poet more than philosopher. The _Cuzari_ was a
dialogue based on the three principles, that God is revealed in history,
that Jerusalem is the centre of the world, and that Israel is to the
nations as the heart to the limbs. Jehuda Halevi supported these ideas
with arguments deduced from the philosophy of his day, he used reason as
the handmaid of theology. Maimonides, however, like Saadiah, recognized
a higher function for reason. He placed reason on the same level as
revelation, and then demonstrated that his faith and his reason taught
identical truths. His work, the "Guide of the Perplexed," written in
Arabic in about the year 1190, is based, on the one hand, on the
Aristotelian system as expounded by Arabian thinkers, and, on the other
hand, on a firm belief in Scripture and tradition. With a masterly hand,
Maimonides summarized the teachings of Aristotle and the doctrines of
Moses and the Rabbis. Between these two independent bodies of truths he
found, not contradiction, but agreement, and he reconciled them in a way
that satisfied so many minds that the "Guide" was translated into Hebrew
twice during his life-time, and was studied by Mohammedans and by
Christians such as Thomas Aquinas. With general readers, the third part
was the most popular. In this part Maimonides offered rational
explanations of the ceremonial and legislative details of the Bible.
For a long time after the death of Maimonides, which took place in 1204,
Jewish thought found in the "Guide" a strong attraction or a violent
repulsion. Commentaries on the _Moreh_, or "Guide," multiplied apace.
Among the most original of the philosophical successors of Maimonides
there were few Jews but were greatly influenced by him. Even the famous
author of "The Wars of the Lord," Ralbag, Levi, the son of Gershon
(Gersonides), who was born in 1288, and died in 1344, was more or less
at the same stand-point as Maimonides. On the other hand, Chasdai
Crescas, in his "Light of God," written between 1405 and 1410, made a
determined attack on Aristotle, and dealt a serious blow at Maimonides.
Crescas' work influenced the thought of Spinoza, who was also a close
student of Maimonides. A pupil of Crescas, Joseph Albo (1380-1444) was
likewise a critic of Maimonides. Albo's treatise, "The Book of
Principles" (_Ikkarim_), became a popular text-book. It was impossible
that the reconciliation of Aristotle and Moses should continue to
satisfy Jewish readers, when Aristotle had been dethroned from his
position of dictator in European thought. But the "Guide" of Maimonides
was a great achievement for its spirit more than for its contents. If it
inevitably became obsolete as a system of theology, it permanently acted
as an antidote to the mysticism which in the thirteenth century began to
gain a hold on Judaism, and which, but for Maimonides, might have
completely undermined the beliefs of the Synagogue. Maimonides remained
the exemplar of reasoning faith long after his particular form of
reasoning had become unacceptable to the faithful.
Karpeles.--_Jewish Literature and other Essays_, p. 145.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, pp. 70, 82 _seq._,
Schiller-Szinessy.--_Encycl. Brit._, Vol. XV, p. 295.
_Eight Chapters_.--B. Spiers in _Threefold Cord_ (1893).
English translation in _Hebrew Review_, Vols. I and II.
_Strong Hand_, selections translated by Soloweycik (London, 1863).
_Letter to Jehuda Ibn Tibbon_, translated by H. Adler
(_Miscellany of the Society of Hebrew Literature_, Vol. I).
_Guide of the Perplexed_, translated by M. Friedlšnder (1885).
CRITICAL ESSAYS ON MAIMONIDES:
I.H. Weiss.--_Study of the Talmud in the Thirteenth Century_,
_J.Q.R._, I, p. 290.
J. Owen.--_J.Q.R._, III, p. 203.
S. Schechter.--_Studies in Judaism_, p. 161 , etc.
On MAIMON (father of Maimonides), see L.M. Simmons, _Letter of
Consolation of Maimon ben Joseph_, _J.Q.R._, II, p. 62.
Graetz.--IV, pp. 146 , 191 .
English translation of _Ikkarim, Hebrew Review_, Vols. I, II, III.
THE DIFFUSION OF SCIENCE
ProvenÁal Translators.--The Ibn Tibbons.--Italian
Translators act as mediators between various peoples and ages. They
bring the books and ideas of one form of civilization to the minds and
hearts of another. In the Middle Ages translations were of more
importance than now, since fewer educated people could read foreign
No men of letters were more active than the Jews in this work of
diffusion. Dr. Steinschneider fills 1100 large pages with an account of
the translations made by Jews in the Middle Ages. Jews co-operated with
Mohammedans in making translations from the Greek, as later on they
were associated with Christians in making Latin translations of the
masterpieces of Greek literature. Most of the Jewish translations,
however, that influenced Europe were made from the Arabic into the
Hebrew. But though the language of these translations was mostly Hebrew,
they were serviceable to others besides Jews. For the Hebrew versions
were often only a stage in a longer journey. Sometimes by Jews directly,
sometimes by Christian scholars acting in conjunction with Jews, these
Hebrew versions were turned into Latin, which most scholars understood,
and from the Latin further translations were made into the every-day
languages of Europe.
The works so translated were chiefly the scientific and philosophical
masterpieces of the Greeks and Arabs. Poetry and history were less
frequently the subject of translation, but, as will be seen later on,
the spread of the fables of Greece and of the folk-tales of India owed
something to Hebrew translators and editors.
Provence was a meeting-place for Arab science and Jewish learning in the
Middle Ages, and it was there that the translating impulse of the Jews
first showed itself strongly. By the beginning of the thirteenth
century, Hebrew translation had become an art. True, these Hebrew
versions possess no graces of style, but they rank among the best of
their class for fidelity to their originals. Jewish patrons encouraged
the translators by material and moral support. Thus, Meshullam of Lunel
(twelfth century) was both learned and wealthy, and his eager
encouragement of Judah Ibn Tibbon, "the father of Jewish translators,"
gave a strong impetus to the translating activity of the Jews.
Judah Ibn Tibbon (about 1120-1190) was of Spanish origin, but he
emigrated from Granada to Provence during the same persecution that
drove Maimonides from his native land. Judah settled in Lunel, and his
skill as a physician won him such renown that his medical services were
sought by knights and bishops even from across the sea. Judah Ibn Tibbon
was a student of science and philosophy. He early qualified himself as a
translator by careful attention to philological niceties. Under the
inspiration of Meshullam, he spent the years 1161 to 1186 in making a
series of translations from Arabic into Hebrew. His translations were
difficult and forced in style, but he had no ready-made language at his
command. He had to create a new Hebrew. Classical Hebrew was naturally
destitute of the technical terms of philosophy, and Ibn Tibbon invented
expressions modelled on the Greek and the Arabic. He made Hebrew once
more a living language by extending its vocabulary and adapting its
idioms to the requirements of medieval culture.
His son Samuel (1160-1230) and his grandson Moses continued the line of
faithful but inelegant translators. Judah had turned into Hebrew the
works of Bachya, Ibn Gebirol, Jehuda Halevi, Ibn Janach, and Saadiah.
Samuel was the translator of Maimonides, and bore a brave part in the
defence of his master in the bitter controversies which arose as to the
lawfulness and profit of studying philosophy. The translations of the
Tibbon family were in the first instance intended for Jewish readers
only, but later on the Tibbonite versions were turned into Latin by
Buxtorf and others. Another Latin translation of Maimonides existed as
early as the thirteenth century.
Of the successors of the Tibbons, Jacob Anatoli (1238) was the first to
translate any portion of Averroes into any language. Averroes was an
Arab thinker of supreme importance in the Middle Ages, for through his
writings Europe was acquainted with Aristotle. Renan asserts that all
the early students of Averroes were Jews. Anatoli, a son-in-law of
Samuel Ibn Tibbon, was invited by Emperor Frederick II to leave Provence
and settle in Naples. To allow Anatoli full leisure for making
translations, Frederick granted him an annual income. Anatoli was a
friend of the Christian Michael Scot, and the latter made Latin
renderings from the former's Hebrew translations. In this way Christian
Europe was made familiar with Aristotle as interpreted by Averroes (Ibn
Roshd). Much later, the Jew Abraham de Balmes (1523) translated Averroes
directly from Arabic into Latin. In the early part of the fourteenth
century, Kalonymos, the son of Kalonymos, of Aries (born 1287),
translated various works into Latin.
From the thirteenth century onwards, Jews were industrious translators
of all the important masterpieces of scientific and philosophical
literature. Their zeal included the works of the Greek astronomers and
mathematicians, Ptolemy, Euclid, Archimedes, and many others. Alfonso X
commissioned several Jews to co-operate with the royal secretaries in
making new renderings of older Arabic works on astronomy. Long before
this, in 959, the monk Nicholas joined the Jew Chasdai in translating
Dioscorides. Most of the Jewish translators were, however, not
Spaniards, but ProvenÁals and Italians. It is to them that we owe the
Hebrew translations of Galen and Hippocrates, on which Latin versions
The preceding details, mere drops from an ocean of similar facts, show
that the Jews were the mediators between Mohammedan and Christian
learning in the Middle Ages. According to Lecky, "the Jews were the
chief interpreters to Western Europe of Arabian learning." When it is
remembered that Arabian learning for a long time included the Greek, it
will be seen that Lecky ascribes to Jewish translators a role of the
first importance in the history of science. Roger Bacon (1214-1294) had
long before said a similar thing: "Michael Scot claimed the merit of
numerous translations. But it is certain that a Jew labored at them more
than he did. And so with the rest."
In what precedes, nothing has been said of the _original_ contributions
made by Jewish authors to scientific literature. Jews were active in
original research especially in astronomy, medicine, and mathematics.
Many Jewish writers famous as philosophers, Talmudists, or poets, were
also men of science. There are numerous Jewish works on the calendar, on
astronomical instruments and tables, on mathematics, on medicine, and
natural history. Some of their writers share the medieval belief in
astrology and magic. But it is noteworthy that Abraham Ibn Ezra doubted
the common belief in demons, while Maimonides described astrology as
"that error called a science." These subjects, however, are too
technical for fuller treatment in the present book. More will be found
in the works cited below.
IBN TIBBON FAMILY.
Graetz.--III, p. 397 .
Graetz.--III, p. 566 .
Karpeles.--_Sketch of Jewish History_ (Jewish Publication Society
of America, 1897), pp. 49, 57.
Steinschneider, _Jewish Literature_, p. 62 _seq._
SCIENCE AND MEDICINE.
Steinschneider.--_Ibid._, pp. 179 _seq._, 260 _seq._
Also, A. Friedenwald.--_Jewish Physicians and the Contributions of
the Jews to the Science of Medicine_ (_Publications of the
Gratz College_, Vol. I).
THE DIFFUSION OF FOLK-TALES
Barlaam and Joshaphat.--The Fables of Bidpai.--Abraham Ibn
Chisdai.--Berachya ha-Nakdan.--Joseph Zabara.
The folk-tales of India were communicated to Europe in two ways. First,
there was an oral diffusion. In friendly conversation round the family
hearth, in the convivial intercourse of the tavern and divan, the wit
and wisdom of the East found a home in the West. Having few
opportunities of coming into close relations with Christian society, the
Jews had only a small share in the oral diffusion of folk-tales. But
there was another means of diffusion, namely, by books. By their
writings the Jews were able to leave some impress on the popular
literature of Europe.
This they did by their translations. Sometimes the Jews translated
fables and folk-tales solely for their own use, and in such cases the
translations did not leave the Hebrew form into which they were cast. A
good example of this was Abraham Ibn Chisdai's "Prince and Nazirite,"
compiled in the beginning of the thirteenth century. It was a Hebrew
version of the legend of Buddha, known as "Barlaam and Joshaphat." In
this the story is told of a prince's conversion to the ascetic life. His
father had vainly sought to hold him firm to a life of pleasure by
isolating him in a beautiful palace, far from the haunts of man, so that
he might never know that such things as evil, misery, and death existed.
Of course the plan failed, the prince discovered the things hidden from
him, and he became converted to the life of self-denial and renunciation
associated with the saintly teaching of Buddha. This story is the frame
into which a number of charming tales are set, which have found their
way into the popular literature of all the world. But in this spread of
the Indian stories, the book of Abraham Ibn Chisdai had no part.
Far other it was with the Hebrew translation of the famous Fables of
Bidpai, known in Hebrew as _Kalila ve-Dimna_. These fables, like those
contained in the "Prince and Nazirite," were Indian, and were in fact
birth-stories of Buddha. They were connected by means of a frame, or
central plot. A large part of the popular tales of the Middle Ages can
be traced to the Fables of Bidpai, and here the Jews exerted important
influence. Some authorities even hold that these Fables of Bidpai were
brought to Spain directly from India by Jews. This is doubtful, but it
is certain that the spread of the Fables was due to Jewish activity. A
Jew translated them into Hebrew, and this Hebrew was turned into Latin
by the Italian John of Capua, a Jew by birth, in the year 1270.
Moreover, the Old Spanish version which was made in 1251 probably was
also the work of the Jewish school of translators established in Toledo
by Alfonso. The Greek version, which was earlier still, and dates from
1080, was equally the work of a Jew. Thus, as Mr. Joseph Jacobs has
shown, this curious collection of fables, which influenced Europe more
perhaps than any book except the Bible, started as a Buddhistic work,
and passed over to the Mohammedans and Christians chiefly through the
mediation of Jews.
Another interesting collection of fables was made by Berachya ha-Nakdan
(the Punctuator, or Grammarian). He lived in England in the twelfth
century, or according to another opinion he dwelt in France a century
later. His collection of 107 "Fox Fables" won wide popularity, for their
wit and point combined with their apt use of Biblical phrases to please
the medieval taste. The fables in this collection are all old, many of
them being ∆sop's, but it is very possible that the first knowledge of
∆sop gained in England was derived from a Latin translation of Berachya.
Of greater poetical merit was Joseph Zabara's "Book of Delight," written
in about the year 1200 in Spain. In this poetical romance a large number
of ancient fables and tales are collected, but they are thrown into a
frame-work which is partially original. One night he, the author, lay at
rest after much toil, when a giant appeared before him, and bade him
rise. Joseph hastily obeyed, and by the light of the lamp which the
giant carried partook of a fine banquet which his visitor spread for
him. Enan, for such was the giant's name, offered to take Joseph to
another land, pleasant as a garden, where all men were loving, all men
wise. But Joseph refused, and told Enan fable after fable, about
leopards, foxes, and lions, all proving that it was best for a man to
remain where he was and not travel to foreign places. But Enan coaxes
Joseph to go with him, and as they ride on, they tell one another a very
long series of excellent tales, and exchange many witty remarks and
anecdotes. When at last they reach Enan's city, Joseph discovers that
his guide is a demon. In the end, Joseph breaks away from him, and
returns home to Barcelona. Now, it is very remarkable that this
collection of tales, written in exquisite Hebrew, closely resembles the
other collections in which Europe delighted later on. It is hard to
believe that Zabara's work had no influence in spreading these tales. At
all events, Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans, all read and enjoyed the
same stories, all laughed at the same jokes. "It is," says Mr. Jacobs,
"one of those touches of nature which make the whole world kin. These
folk-tales form a bond, not alone between the ages, but between many
races who think they have nothing in common. We have the highest
authority that 'out of the mouths of babes and sucklings has the Lord
established strength,' and surely of all the influences for good in the
world, none is comparable to the lily souls of little children. That
Jews, by their diffusion of folk-tales, have furnished so large an
amount of material to the childish imagination of the civilized world
is, to my mind, no slight thing for Jews to be proud of. It is one of
the conceptions that make real to us the idea of the Brotherhood of Man,
which, in Jewish minds, is forever associated with the Fatherhood of
J. Jacobs.--_The Diffusion of Folk Tales_ (in _Jewish Ideals_,
p. 135); _The Fables of Bidpai_ (London, 1888) and _Barlaam
and Joshaphat_ (Introductions).
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 174.
J. Jacobs.--_Jews of Angevin England_, pp. 165 _seq._, 278.
A. Neubauer.--_J.Q.R._, II, p. 520.
I. Abrahams.--_J.Q.R._, VI, p. 502 (with English translation
of the _Book of Delight_).
French and Spanish Talmudists.--The Tossafists, Asher of
Speyer, Tam, Isaac of Dompaire, Baruch of Ratisbon, Perez of
Corbeil.--Nachmanides' Commentary on the Pentateuch.--Public
controversies between Jews and Christians.
Nachmanides was one of the earliest writers to effect a reconciliation
between the French and the Spanish schools of Jewish literature. On the
one side, his Spanish birth and training made him a friend of the widest
culture; on the other, he was possessed of the French devotion to the
Talmud. Moses, the son of Nachman (Nachmanides, Ramban, 1195-1270),
Spaniard though he was, says, "The French Rabbis have won most Jews to
their view. They are our masters in Talmud, and to them we must go for
instruction." From the eleventh to the fourteenth century, a French
school of Talmudists occupied themselves with the elucidation of the
Talmud, and from the "Additions" (_Tossafoth_) which they compiled they
are known as Tossafists. The Tossafists were animated with an altogether
different spirit from that of the Spanish writers on the Talmud. But
though their method is very involved and over-ingenious, they display so
much mastery of the Talmud, such excellent discrimination, and so keen a
critical insight, that they well earned the fame they have enjoyed. The
earliest Tossafists were the family and pupils of Rashi, but the method
spread from Northern France to Provence, and thence to Spain. The most
famous Tossafists were Isaac, the son of Asher of Speyer (end of the
eleventh century); Tam of Rameru (Rashi's grandson); Isaac the Elder of
Dompaire (Tam's nephew); Baruch of Ratisbon; and Perez of Corbeil.
Nachmanides' admiration for the French method--a method by no means
restricted to the Tossafists--did not blind him to its defects. "They
try to force an elephant through the eye of a needle," he sarcastically
said of some of the French casuists. Nachmanides thus possessed some of
the independence characteristic of the Spanish Jews. He also shared the
poetic spirit of Spain, and his hymn for the Day of Atonement is one of
the finest products of the new-Hebrew muse. The last stanzas run thus:
Thine is the love, O God, and thine the grace,
That holds the sinner in its mild embrace;
Thine the forgiveness, bridging o'er the space
'Twixt man's works and the task set by the King.
Unheeding all my sins, I cling to thee!
I know that mercy shall thy footstool be:
Before I call, O do thou answer me,
For nothing dare I claim of thee, my King!
O thou, who makest guilt to disappear,
My help, my hope, my rock, I will not fear;
Though thou the body hold in dungeon drear,
The soul has found the palace of the King!
Everything that Nachmanides wrote is warm with tender love. He was an
enthusiast in many directions. His heart went out to the French
Talmudists, yet he cherished so genuine an affection for Maimonides that
he defended him with spirit against his detractors. Gentle by nature, he
broke forth into fiery indignation against the French critics of
Maimonides. At the same time his tender soul was attracted by the
emotionalism of the Kabbala, or mystical view of life, a view equally
opposed to the views of Maimonides and of the French school. He tried to
act the part of reconciler, but his intellect, strong as it was, was too
much at the mercy of his emotions for him to win a commanding place in
the controversies of his time.
For a moment we may turn aside from his books to the incidents of his
life. Like Maimonides, he was a physician by profession and a Rabbi by
way of leisure. The most momentous incident in his career in Barcelona
was his involuntary participation in a public dispute with a convert
from the Synagogue. Pablo Christiani burned with the desire to convert
the Jews _en masse_ to Christianity, and in 1263 he induced King Jayme I
of Aragon to summon Nachmanides to a controversy on the truth of
Christianity. Nachmanides complied with the royal command most
reluctantly. He felt that the process of rousing theological animosity
by a public discussion could only end in a religious persecution.
However, he had no alternative but to assent. He stipulated for complete
freedom of speech. This was granted, but when Nachmanides published his
version of the discussion, the Dominicans were incensed. True, the
special commission appointed to examine the charge of blasphemy brought
against Nachmanides reported that he had merely availed himself of the
right of free speech which had been guaranteed to him. He was
nevertheless sentenced to exile, and his pamphlet was burnt. Nachmanides
was seventy years of age at the time. He settled in Palestine, where he
died in about 1270, amid a band of devoted friends and disciples, who
did not, however, reconcile him to the separation from his Spanish home.
"I left my family," he wrote, "I forsook my house. There, with my sons
and daughters, the sweet, dear children whom I brought up on my knees, I
left also my soul My heart and my eyes will dwell with them forever."
The Halachic, or Talmudical, works of Nachmanides have already been
mentioned. His homiletical, or exegetical, writings are of more literary
importance. In "The Sacred Letter" he contended that man's earthly
nature is divine no less than his soul, and he vindicates the "flesh"
from the attacks made on human character by certain forms of
Christianity. The body, according to Nachmanides, is, with all its
functions, the work of God, and therefore perfect. "It is only sin and
neglect that disfigure God's creatures." In another of his books, "The
Law of Man," Nachmanides writes of suffering and death. He offers an
antidote to pessimism, for he boldly asserts that pain and suffering in
themselves are "a service of God, leading man to ponder on his end and
reflect about his destiny." Nachmanides believed in the bodily
resurrection, but held that the soul was in a special sense a direct
emanation from God. He was not a philosopher strictly so-called; he was
a mystic more than a thinker, one to whom God was an intuition, not a
concept of reason.
The greatest work of Nachmanides was his "Commentary on the Pentateuch."
He reveals his whole character in it. In composing his work he had, he
tells us, three motives, an intellectual, a theological, and an
emotional motive. First, he would "satisfy the minds of students, and
draw their heart out by a critical examination of the text." His
exposition is, indeed, based on true philology and on deep and original
study of the Bible. His style is peculiarly attractive, and had he been
content to offer a plain commentary, his work would have ranked among
the best. But he had other desires besides giving a simple explanation
of the text. He had, secondly, a theological motive, to justify God and
discover in the words of Scripture a hidden meaning. In the Biblical
narratives, Nachmanides sees _types_ of the history of man. Thus, the
account of the six days of creation is turned into a prophecy of the
events which would occur during the next six thousand years, and the
seventh day is a type of the millennium. So, too, Nachmanides finds
symbolical senses in Scriptural texts, "for, in the Torah, are hidden
every wonder and every mystery, and in her treasures is sealed every
beauty of wisdom." Finally, Nachmanides wrote, not only for educational
and theological ends, but also for edification. His third purpose was
"to bring peace to the minds of students (laboring under persecution
and trouble), when they read the portion of the Pentateuch on Sabbaths
and festivals, and to attract their hearts by simple explanations and
sweet words." His own enthusiastic and loving temperament speaks in this
part of his commentary. It is true, as Graetz says, that Nachmanides
exercised more influence on his contemporaries and on succeeding ages by
his personality than by his writings. But it must be added that the
writings of Nachmanides are his personality.
I.H. Weiss, _Study of the Talmud in the Thirteenth Century_,
_J.Q.R._, I, p. 289.
S. Schechter.--_Studies in Judaism_, p. 99 .
Graetz.--III, 17; also III, p. 598 .
Graetz.--III, p. 375 .
Graetz.--III, p. 344 , 403 .
THE ZOHAR AND LATER MYSTICISM
Kabbala.--The Bahir.--Abulafia.--Moses of Leon.--The
Zohar.--Isaac Lurya.--Isaiah Hurwitz.--Christian
Mysticism is the name given to the belief in direct, intuitive communion
with God. All true religion has mystical elements, for all true religion
holds that man can commune with God, soul with soul. In the Psalms, God
is the Rock of the heart, the Portion of the cup, the Shepherd and
Light, the Fountain of Life, an exceeding Joy. All this is, in a sense,
_mystical_ language. But mysticism has many dangers. It is apt to
confuse vague emotionalism and even hysteria with communion with God. A
further defect of mysticism is that, in its medieval forms, it tended to
the multiplication of intermediate beings, or angels, which it created
to supply the means for that communion with God which, in theory, the
mystics asserted was direct. Finally, from being a deep-seated,
emotional aspect of religion, mysticism degenerated into intellectual
sport, a play with words and a juggling with symbols.
Jewish mysticism passed through all these stages. Kabbala--as mysticism
was called--really means "Tradition," and the name proves that the
theory had its roots far back in the past. It has just been said that
there is mysticism in the Psalms. So there is in the idea of
inspiration, the prophet's receiving a message direct from God with whom
he spoke face to face. After the prophetic age, Jewish mysticism
displayed itself in intense personal religiousness, as well as in love
for Apocalyptic, or dream, literature, in which the sleeper could, like
Daniel, feel himself lapped to rest in the bosom of God.
All the earlier literary forms of mysticism, or theosophy, made
comparatively little impression on Jewish writers. But at the beginning
of the thirteenth century a great development took place in the "secret"
science of the Kabbala. The very period which produced the rationalism
of Maimonides gave birth to the emotionalism of the Kabbala. The Kabbala
was at first a protest against too much intellectualism and rigidity in
religion. It reclaimed religion for the heart. A number of writers more
or less dallied with the subject, and then the Kabbala took a bolder
flight. Ezra, or Azriel, a teacher of Nachmanides, compiled a book
called "Brilliancy" (_Bahir_) in the year 1240. It was at once regarded
as a very ancient book. As will be seen, the same pretence of antiquity
was made with regard to another famous Kabbalistic work of a later
generation. Under Todros Abulafia (1234-1304) and Abraham Abulafia
(1240-1291), the mystical movement took a practical shape, and the
Jewish masses were much excited by stories of miracles performed and of
the appearance of a new Messiah.
At this moment Moses of Leon (born in Leon in about 1250, died in
Arevalo in 1305) wrote the most famous Kabbalistic book of the Middle
Ages. This was named, in imitation of the Bahir, "Splendor" (_Zohar_),
and its brilliant success matched its title. Not only did this
extraordinary book raise the Kabbala to the zenith of its influence, but
it gave it a firm and, as it has proved, unassailable basis. Like the
Bahir, the Zohar was not offered to the public on its own merits, but
was announced as the work of Simon, the son of Yochai, who lived in the
second century. The Zohar, it was pretended, had been concealed in a
cavern in Galilee for more than a thousand years, and had now been
suddenly discovered. The Zohar is, indeed, a work of genius, its
spiritual beauty, its fancy, its daring imagery, its depth of devotion,
ranking it among the great books of the world. Its literary style,
however, is less meritorious; it is difficult and involved. As
Chatterton clothed his ideas in a pseudo-archaic English, so Moses of
Leon used an Aramaic idiom, which he handled clumsily and not as one to
the manner born. It would not be so important to insist on the fact that
the Zohar was a literary forgery, that it pretended to an antiquity it
did not own, were it not that many Jews and Christians still write as
though they believe that the book is as old as it was asserted to be.
The defects of the Zohar are in keeping with this imposture. Absurd
allegories are read into the Bible; the words of Scripture are counters
in a game of distortion and combination; God himself is obscured amid a
maze of mystic beings, childishly conceived and childishly named.
Philosophically, the Zohar has no originality. Its doctrines of the
Transmigration of the Soul, of the Creation as God's self-revelation in
the world, of the Emanation from the divine essence of semi-human,
semi-divine powers, were only commonplaces of medieval theology. Its
great original idea was that the revealed Word of God, the Torah, was
designed for no other purpose than to effect a union between the soul of
man and the soul of God.
Reinforced by this curious jumble of excellence and nonsense, the
Kabbala became one of the strongest literary bonds between Jews and
Christians. It is hardly to be wondered at, for the Zohar contains some
ideas which are more Christian than Jewish. Christians, like Pico di
Mirandola (1463-1494), under the influence of the Jewish Kabbalist
Jochanan Aleman, and Johann Reuchlin (1455-1522), sharer of Pico's
spirit and precursor of the improved study of the Scriptures in Europe,
made the Zohar the basis of their defence of Jewish literature against
the attempts of various ecclesiastical bodies to crush and destroy it.
The Kabbala did not, however, retain a high place in the realm of
literature. It greatly influenced Jewish religious ceremonies, it
produced saintly souls, and from such centres as Safed and Salonica sent
forth men like Solomon Molcho and Sabbatai Zevi, who maintained that
they were Messiahs, and could perform miracles on the strength of
Kabbalistic powers. But from the literary stand-point the Kabbala was a
barren inspiration. The later works of Kabbalists are a rehash of the
older works. The Zohar was the bible of the Kabbalists, and the later
works of the school were commentaries on this bible. The Zohar had
absorbed all the earlier Kabbalistic literature, such as the "Book of
Creation" (_Sefer Yetsirah_), the Book Raziel, the Alphabet of Rabbi
Akiba, and it was the final literary expression of the Kabbala.
It is, therefore, unnecessary to do more than name one or two of the
more noted Kabbalists of post-Zoharistic ages. Isaac Lurya (1534-1572)
was a saint, so devoid of self-conceit that he published nothing, though
he flourished at the very time when the printing-press was throwing
copies of the Zohar broadcast. We owe our knowledge of Lurya's
Kabbalistic ideas to the prolific writings of his disciple Chayim Vital
Calabrese, who died in Damascus in 1620. Other famous Kabbalists were
Isaiah Hurwitz (about 1570-1630), author of a much admired ethical work,
"The Two Tables of the Covenant" (_Sheloh_, as it is familiarly called
from the initials of its Hebrew title); Nehemiah Chayun (about
1650-1730); and the Hebrew dramatist Moses Chayim Luzzatto (1707-1747).
A more recent Kabbalistic movement, led by the founder of the new
saints, or Chassidim, Israel Baalshem (about 1700-1772), was even less
literary than the one just described. But the Kabbalists, medieval and
modern, were meritorious writers in one field of literature. The
Kabbalists and the Chassidim were the authors of some of the most
exquisite prayers and meditations which the soul of the Jew has poured
forth since the Psalms were completed. This redeems the later
Kabbalistic literature from the altogether unfavorable verdict which
would otherwise have to be passed on it.
Graetz.--III, p. 547 
MOSES DE LEON.
A. Neubauer.--_Bahir and Zohar_, _J.Q.R._, IV, p. 357.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 104.
Graetz.--IV, p. 618 .
Graetz.--V, p. 118 .
Schechter.--_Studies in Judaism_, p. 1.
ITALIAN JEWISH POETRY
Immanuel and Dante.--The Machberoth.--Judah
Romano.--Kalonymos.--The Eben Bochan.--Moses Rieti.--Messer
The course of Jewish literature in Italy ran along the same lines as in
Spain. The Italian group of authors was less brilliant, but the
difference was one of degree, not of kind. The Italian aristocracy, like
the Moorish caliphs and viziers, patronized learning, and encouraged the
Jews in their literary ambitions.
Yet the fact that the inspiration in Spain came from Islam and in Italy
from Christianity produced some consequences. In Spain the Jews followed
Arab models of style. In Italy the influence of classical models was
felt at the time of the Renaissance. Most noteworthy of all was the
indebtedness of the Hebrew poets of Italy to Dante.
It is not improbable that Dante was a personal friend of the most noted
of these Jewish poets, Immanuel, the son of Solomon of Rome. Like the
other Jews of Rome, Immanuel stood in the most friendly relations with
Christians, for nowhere was medieval intolerance less felt than in the
very seat of the Pope, the head of the Church. Thus, on the one hand
Immanuel was a leading member of the synagogue, and, on the other, he
carried on a literary correspondence with learned Christians, with
poets, and men of science. He was himself a physician, and his poems
breathe a scientific spirit. As happened earlier in Spain, the circle of
Immanuel regarded verse-making as part of the culture of a scholar.
Witty verses, in the form of riddles and epigrams, were exchanged at the
meetings of the circle. With these poets, among whom Kalonymos was
included, the penning of verses was a fashion. On the other hand, music
was not so much cultivated by the Italian Hebrews as by the Spanish.
Hence, both Immanuel and Kalonymos lack the lightness and melody of the
best writers of Hebrew verse in Spain. The Italians atoned for this loss
by their subject-matter. They are joyous poets, full of the gladness of
life. They are secular, not religious poets; the best of the
Spanish-Hebrew poetry was devotional, and the best of the Italian so
secular that it was condemned by pietists as too frivolous and too much
"disfigured by ill-timed levity."
Immanuel was born in Rome in about 1270. He rarely mentions his father,
but often names his mother Justa as a woman of pious and noble
character. As a youth, he had a strong fancy for scientific study, and
was nourished on the "Guide" of Maimonides, on the works of the Greeks
and Arabs, and on the writings of the Christian school-men, which he
read in Hebrew translations. Besides philosophy, mathematics, astronomy,
and medicine, Immanuel studied the Bible and the Talmud, and became an
accomplished scholar. He was not born a poet, but he read deeply the
poetical literature of Jews and Christians, and took lessons in
rhyme-making. He was wealthy, and his house was a rendezvous of wits and
scientists. His own position in the Jewish community was remarkable. It
has already been said that he took an active part in the management of
communal affairs, but he did more than this. He preached in the
synagogue on the Day of Atonement, and delivered eulogistic orations
over the remains of departed worthies. Towards the end of his life he
suffered losses both in fortune and in friends, but he finally found a
new home in Fermo, where he was cordially welcomed in 1328. The date of
his death is uncertain, but he died in about 1330.
His works were versatile rather than profound. He wrote grammatical
treatises and commentaries, which display learning more than
originality. But his poetical writings are of great interest in the
history of Jewish literature. He lived in the dawn-flush of the
Renaissance in Italy. The Italian language was just evolving itself,
under the genius of Dante, from a mere jumble of dialects into a
literary language. Dante did for Italy what Chaucer was soon after to do
for England. On the one side influenced by the Renaissance and the birth
of the new Italian language, on the other by the Jewish revival of
letters in Spain and Provence, the Italian Jews alone combined the
Jewish spirit with the spirit of the classical Renaissance. Immanuel was
the incarnation of this complex soul.
This may be seen from the form of Immanuel's _Machberoth_, or
"Collection." The latter portion of it, named separately "Hell and
Eden," was imitated from the Christian Dante; the poem as a whole was
planned on Charizi's _Tachkemoni_, a Hebrew development of the Arabic
Divan. The poet is not the hero of his own song, but like the Arabic
poets of the divan, conceives a personage who fills the centre of the
canvas--a personage really identical with the author, yet in a sense
other than he. Much quaintness of effect is produced by this double part
played by the poet, who, as it were, satirizes his own doings. In
Immanuel's _Machberoth_ there is much variety of romantic incident. But
it is in satire that he reaches his highest level. Love and wine are the
frequent burdens of his song, as they are in the ProvenÁal and Italian
poetry of his day. Immanuel was something of a Voltaire in his jocose
treatment of sacred things, and pietists like Joseph Karo inhibited the
study of the _Machberoth_. Others, too, described his songs as sensuous
and his satires as blasphemous. But the devout and earnest piety of
some of Immanuel's prayers,--some of them to be found in the
_Machberoth_ themselves--proves that Immanuel's licentiousness and
levity were due, not to lack of reverence, but to the attempt to
reconcile the ideals of Italian society of the period of the Renaissance
with the ideals of Judaism.
Immanuel owed his rhymed prose to Charizi, but again he shows his
devotion to two masters by writing Hebrew sonnets. The sonnet was new
then to Italian verse, and Immanuel's Hebrew specimens thus belong to
the earliest sonnets written in any literature. It is, indeed,
impossible to convey a just sense of the variety of subject and form in
the _Machberoth_. "Serious and frivolous topics trip each other by the
heels; all metrical forms, prayers, elegies, passages in unmetrical
rhymes, all are mingled together." The last chapter is, however, of a
different character, and it has often been printed as a separate work.
It is the "Hell and Eden" to which allusion has already been made.
The link between Immanuel and his ProvenÁal contemporary Kalonymos was
supplied by Judah Romano, the Jewish school-man. All three were in the
service of the king of Naples. Kalonymos was the equal of Romano as a
philosopher and not much below Immanuel as a satirist. He was a more
fertile poet than Immanuel, for, while Immanuel remained the sole
representative of his manner, Kalonymos gave birth to a whole school of
imitators. Kalonymos wrote many translations, of Galen, Averroes,
Aristotle, al-Farabi, Ptolemy, and Archimedes. But it was his keen wit
more than his learning that made him popular in Rome, and impelled the
Jews of that city, headed by Immanuel, to persuade Kalonymos to settle
permanently in Italy. Kalonymos' two satirical poems were called "The
Touchstone" (_Eben Bochan_) and "The Purim Tractate." These satirize
the customs and social habits of the Jews of his day in a bright and
powerful style. In his Purim Tractate, Kalonymos parodies the style,
logic, and phraseology of the Talmud, and his work was the forerunner of
a host of similar parodies.
There were many Italian writers of _Piyutim_, i.e. Synagogue hymns, but
these were mediocre in merit. The elegies written in lament for the
burning of the Law and the martyrdoms endured in various parts of Italy
were the only meritorious devotional poems composed in Hebrew in that
country. Italy remained famous in Hebrew poetry for secular, not for
religious compositions. In the fifteenth century Moses Rieti (born 1389,
died later than 1452) imitated Dante once more in his "Lesser Sanctuary"
(_Mikdash Mešt_). Here again may be noticed a feature peculiar to
Italian Hebrew poetry. Rieti uses regular stanzas, Italian forms of
verse, in this matter following the example of Immanuel. Messer Leon, a
physician of Mantua, wrote a treatise on Biblical rhetoric (1480).
Again, the only important writer of dramas in Hebrew was, as we shall
see, an Italian Jew, who copied Italian models. Though, therefore, the
Hebrew poetry of Italy scarcely reaches the front rank, it is
historically of first-rate importance. It represents the only effects of
the Renaissance on Jewish literature. In other countries, the condition
of the Jews was such that they were shut off from external influences.
Their literature suffered as their lives did from imprisonment within
the Ghettos, which were erected both by the Jews themselves and by the
governments of Europe.
S. Morals.--_Italian Jewish Literature_ (_Publications of the
Gratz College_, Vol. 1).
IMMANUEL AND KALONYMOS.
Graetz.--IV, p. 61 .
J. Chotzner.--_Immanuel di Romi_, _J.Q.R._, IV, p. 64.
G. Sacerdote.--_Emanuele da Roma's Ninth Mehabbereth_,
_J.Q.R._, VII, p. 711.
JUDAH (LEONE) ROMANO.
Graetz.--IV, p. 68 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 230 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 289 .
Bachya Ibn Pekuda.--Choboth ha-Lebaboth.--Sefer
ha-Chassidim.--Rokeach.--Yedaiah Bedaressi's Bechinath
Olam.--Isaac Aboab's Menorath ha-Maor.--Ibn Chabib's "Eye of
Jacob."--Zevaoth, or Ethical Wills.--Joseph Ibn Caspi.--Solomon
A large proportion of all Hebrew books is ethical. Many of the works
already treated here fall under this category. The Talmudical,
exegetical, and philosophical writings of Jews were also ethical
treatises. In this chapter, however, attention will be restricted to a
few books which are in a special sense ethical.
Collections of moral proverbs, such as the "Choice of Pearls,"
attributed to Ibn Gebirol, and the "Maxims of the Philosophers" by
Charizi, were great favorites in the Middle Ages. They had a distinct
charm, but they were not original. They were either compilations from
older books or direct translations from the Arabic. It was far otherwise
with the ethical work entitled "Heart Duties" (_Choboth ha-Lebaboth_),
by Bachya Ibn Pekuda (about 1050-1100). This was as original as it was
forcible. Bachya founded his ethical system on the Talmud and on the
philosophical notions current in his day, but he evolved out of these
elements an original view of life. The inner duties dictated by
conscience were set above all conventional morality. Bachya probed the
very heart of religion. His soul was filled with God, and this
communion, despite the ascetic feelings to which it gave rise, was to
Bachya an exceeding joy. His book thrills the reader with the author's
own chastened enthusiasm. The "Heart Duties" of Bachya is the most
inspired book written by a Jew in the Middle Ages.
In part worthy of a place by the side of Bachya's treatise is an ethical
book written in the Rhinelands during the thirteenth century. "The Book
of the Pious" (_Sefer ha-Chassidim_) is mystical, and in course of time
superstitious elements were interpolated. Wrongly attributed to a single
writer, Judah Chassid, the "Book of the Pious" was really the combined
product of the Jewish spirit in the thirteenth century. It is a
conglomerate of the sublime and the trivial, the purely ethical with the
ceremonial. With this popular and remarkable book may be associated
other conglomerates of the ritual, the ethical, and the mystical, as the
_Rokeach_ by Eleazar of Worms.
A simpler but equally popular work was Yedaiah Bedaressi's "Examination
of the World" (_Bechinath Olam_), written in about the year 1310. Its
style is florid but poetical, and the many quaint turns which it gives
to quotations from the Bible remind the reader of Ibn Gebirol. Its
earnest appeal to man to aim at the higher life, its easily
intelligible and commonplace morals, endeared it to the "general reader"
of the Middle Ages. Few books have been more often printed, few more
Another favorite class of ethical books consisted of compilations made
direct from the Talmud and the Midrash. The oldest and most prized of
these was Isaac Aboab's "Lamp of Light" (_Menorath ha-Maor_). It was an
admirably written book, clearly arranged, and full to the brim of
ethical gems. Aboab's work was written between 1310 and 1320. It is
arranged according to subjects, differing in this respect from another
very popular compilation, Jacob Ibn Chabib's "Eye of Jacob" (_En
Yaakob_), which was completed in the sixteenth century. In this, the
Hagadic passages of the Talmud are extracted without arrangement, the
order of the Talmud itself being retained. The "Eye of Jacob" was an
extremely popular work.
Of the purely devotional literature of Judaism, it is impossible to
speak here. One other ethical book must be here noticed, for it has
attained wide and deserved popularity. This is the "Path of the Upright"
(_Messilath Yesharim_) by Moses Chayim Luzzatto, of whom more will be
said in a later chapter. But a little more space must be here devoted to
a species of ethical tract which was peculiar to Jewish moralists. These
tracts were what are known as Ethical Wills.
These Ethical Wills (_Zevaoth_) contained the express directions of
fathers to their children or of aged teachers to their disciples. They
were for the most part written calmly in old age, but not immediately
before the writers' death. Some of them were very carefully composed,
and amount to formal ethical treatises. But in the main they are
charmingly natural and unaffected. They were intended for the absolutely
private use of children and relatives, or of some beloved pupil who
held the dearest place in his master's regard. They were not designed
for publication, and thus, as the writer had no reason to expect that
his words would pass beyond a limited circle, the Ethical Will is a
clear revelation of his innermost feelings and ideals. Intellectually
some of these Ethical Wills are poor; morally, however, the general
level is very high.
Addresses of parents to their children occur in the Bible, the
Apocrypha, and the Rabbinical literature. But the earliest extant
Ethical Will written as an independent document is that of Eleazar, the
son of Isaac of Worms (about 1050), who must not be confused with the
author of the _Rokeach_. The eleventh and twelfth centuries supply few
examples of the Ethical Will, but from the thirteenth century onwards
there is a plentiful array of them. "Think not of evil," says Eleazar of
Worms, "for evil thinking leads to evil doing.... Purify thy body, the
dwelling-place of thy soul.... Give of all thy food a portion to God.
Let God's portion be the best, and give it to the poor." The will of the
translator Judah Ibn Tibbon (about 1190) contains at least one passage
worthy of Ruskin: "Avoid bad society, make thy books thy companions, let
thy book-cases and shelves be thy gardens and pleasure-grounds. Pluck
the fruit that grows therein, gather the roses, the spices, and the
myrrh. If thy soul be satiate and weary, change from garden to garden,
from furrow to furrow, from sight to sight. Then will thy desire renew
itself, and thy soul be satisfied with delight." The will of Nachmanides
is an unaffected eulogy of humility. Asher, the son of Yechiel
(fourteenth century), called his will "Ways of Life," and it includes
132 maxims, which are often printed in the prayer-book. "Do not obey the
Law for reward, nor avoid sin from fear of punishment, but serve God
from love. Sleep not over-much, but rise with the birds. Be not
over-hasty to reply to offensive remarks; raise not thy hand against
another, even if he curse thy father or mother in thy presence."
Some of these wills, like that of the son of the last mentioned, are
written in rhymed prose; some are controversial. Joseph Ibn Caspi writes
in 1322: "How can I know God, and that he is one, unless I know what
knowing means, and what constitutes unity? Why should these things be
left to non-Jewish philosophers? Why should Aristotle retain sole
possession of the treasures that he stole from Solomon?" The belief that
Aristotle had visited Jerusalem with Alexander the Great, and there
obtained possession of Solomon's wisdom, was one of the most curious
myths of the Middle Ages. The will of Eleazar the Levite of Mainz (1357)
is a simple document, without literary merit, but containing a clear
exposition of duty. "Judge every man charitably, and use your best
efforts to find a kindly explanation of conduct, however suspicious....
Give in charity an exact tithe of your property. Never turn a poor man
away empty-handed. Talk no more than is necessary, and thus avoid
slander. Be not as dumb cattle that utter no word of gratitude, but
thank God for his bounties at the time at which they occur, and in your
prayers let the memory of these personal favors warm your hearts, and
prompt you to special fervor during the utterance of the communal thanks
for communal well-being. When words of thanks occur in the liturgy,
pause and silently reflect on the goodness of God to you that day."
In striking contrast to the simplicity of the foregoing is the elaborate
"Letter of Advice" by Solomon Alami (beginning of the fifteenth
century). It is composed in beautiful rhymed prose, and is an important
historical record. For the author shared the sufferings of the Jews of
the Iberian peninsula in 1391, and this gives pathetic point to his
counsel: "Flee without hesitation when exile is the only means of
securing religious freedom; have no regard to your worldly career or
your property, but go at once."
It is needless to indicate fully the nature of the Ethical Wills of the
sixteenth and subsequent centuries. They are closely similar to the
foregoing, but they tend to become more learned and less simple. Yet,
though as literature they are often quite insignificant, as ethics they
rarely sink below mediocrity.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, pp. 100, 232.
B.H. Ascher.--_Choice of Pearls_ (with English translation,
D. Rosin.--_Ethics of Solomon Ibn Gebirol_, _J.Q.R._,
III, p. 159.
Graetz, III, p. 271.
Graetz.--IV, p. 42 .
J. Chotzner.--_J.Q.R._, VIII, p. 414.
T. Goodman.--English translation of _Bechinath Olam_ (London, 1830).
Edelmann.--_The Path of Good Men_ (London, 1852).
I. Abrahams, _J.Q.R._, III, p. 436.
Eldad the Danite.--Benjamin of Tudela.--Petachiah of
Ratisbon.--Esthori Parchi.--Abraham Farissol.--David Reubeni
and Molcho.--Antonio de Montesinos and Manasseh ben
The voluntary and enforced travels of the Jews produced, from the
earliest period after the destruction of the Temple, an extensive, if
fragmentary, geographical literature. In the Talmud and later religious
books, in the Letters of the Gaonim, in the correspondence of Jewish
ambassadors, in the autobiographical narratives interspersed in the
works of all Jewish scholars of the Middle Ages, in the _Aruch_, or
Talmudical Lexicon, of Nathan of Rome, in the satirical romances of the
poetical globe-trotters, Zabara and Charizi, and, finally, in the Bible
commentaries written by Jews, many geographical notes are to be found.
But the composition of complete works dedicated to travel and
exploration dates only from the twelfth century.
Before that time, however, interest in the whereabouts of the Lost Ten
Tribes gave rise to a book which has been well called the Arabian Nights
of the Jews. The "Diary of Eldad the Danite," written in about the year
880, was a popular romance, to which additions and alterations were made
at various periods. This diary tells of mighty Israelite empires,
especially of the tribe of Moses, the peoples of which were all
virtuous, all happy, and long-lived.
"A river flows round their land for a distance of four
days' journey on every side. They dwell in beautiful houses
provided with handsome towers, which they have built
themselves. There is nothing unclean among them, neither in
the case of birds, venison, nor domesticated animals; there
are no wild beasts, no flies, no foxes, no vermin, no
serpents, no dogs, and, in general, nothing that does harm;
they have only sheep and cattle, which bear twice a year.
They sow and reap, they have all kinds of gardens with all
kinds of fruits and cereals, beans, melons, gourds,
onions, garlic, wheat, and barley, and the seed grows a
hundredfold. They have faith; they know the Law, the
Mishnah, the Talmud, and the Hagadah.... No child, be it
son or daughter, dies during the life-time of its parents,
but they reach a third and fourth generation. They do all
the field-work themselves, having no male nor female
servants. They do not close their houses at night, for
there is no thief or evil-doer among them. They have plenty
of gold and silver; they sow flax, and cultivate the
crimson-worm, and make beautiful garments.... The river
Sambatyon is two hundred yards broad, about as far as a
bow-shot. It is full of sand and stones, but without water;
the stones make a great noise, like the waves of the sea
and a stormy wind, so that in the night the noise is heard
at a distance of half a day's journey. There are fish in
it, and all kinds of clean birds fly round it. And this
river of stone and sand rolls during the six working-days,
and rests on the Sabbath day. As soon as the Sabbath
begins, fire surrounds the river, and the flames remain
till the next evening, when the Sabbath ends. Thus no human
being can reach the river for a distance of half a mile on
either side; the fire consumes all that grows there."
With wild rapture the Jews of the ninth century heard of these
prosperous and powerful kingdoms. Hopes of a restoration to former
dignity encouraged them to believe in the mythical narrative of Eldad.
It is doubtful whether he was a _bona fide_ traveller. At all events,
his book includes much that became the legendary property of all peoples
in the Middle Ages, such as the fable of the mighty Christian Emperor of
India, Prester John.
Some further account of this semi-mythical monarch is contained in the
first real Jewish traveller's book, the "Itinerary" of Benjamin of
Tudela. This Benjamin was a merchant, who, in the year 1160, started on
a long journey, which was prompted partly by commercial, partly by
scientific motives. He visited a large part of Europe and Asia, went to
Jerusalem and Bagdad, and gives in his "Itinerary" some remarkable
geographical facts and some equally remarkable fables. He tells, for
instance, the story of the pretended Messiah, David Alroy, whom Disraeli
made the hero of one of his romances. Benjamin of Tudela's "Itinerary"
was a real contribution to geography.
Soon after Benjamin, another Jew, Petachiah of Ratisbon, set out on a
similar but less extended tour, which occupied him during the years 1179
and 1180. His "Travels" are less informing than those of his immediate
predecessor, but his descriptions of the real or reputed sepulchres of
ancient worthies and his account of the Jewish College in Bagdad are
full of romantic interest, which was not lessened for medieval readers
because much of Petachiah's narrative was legendary.
A far more important work was written by the first Jewish explorer of
Palestine, Esthori Parchi, a contemporary of Mandeville. His family
originated in Florenza, in Andalusia, and the family name Parchi (the
Flower) was derived from this circumstance. Esthori was himself born in
Provence, and was a student of science as well as of the Talmud. When
he, together with the rest of the Jews of France, was exiled in 1306, he
wandered to Spain and Egypt until the attraction of the Holy Land
proved irresistible. His manner was careful, and his love of accuracy
unusual for his day. Hence, he was not content to collect all ancient
and contemporary references to the sites of Palestine. For seven years
he devoted himself to a personal exploration of the country, two years
being passed in Galilee. In 1322 he completed his work, which he called
_Kaphtor va-Pherach_ (Bunch and Flower) in allusion to his own name.
Access to the Holy Land became easier for Jews in the fourteenth
century. Before that time the city of Jerusalem had for a considerable
period been barred to Jewish pilgrims. By the laws of Constantine and of
Omar no Jew might enter within the precincts of his ancient capital.
Even in the centuries subsequent to Omar, such pilgrimages were fraught
with danger, but the poems of Jehuda Halevi, the tolerance of Islam, and
the reputation of Northern Syria as a centre of the Kabbala, combined
to draw many Jews to Palestine. Many letters and narratives were the
results. One characteristic specimen must suffice. In 1488 Obadiah of
Bertinoro, author of the most popular commentary on the Mishnah, removed
from Italy to Jerusalem, where he was appointed Rabbi. In a letter to
his father he gives an intensely moving account of his voyage and of the
state of Hebron and Zion. The narrative is full of personal detail, and
is marked throughout by deep love for his father, which struggles for
the mastery with his love for the Holy City.
A more ambitious work was the "Itinera Mundi" of Abraham Farissol,
written in the autumn of 1524. This treatise was based upon original
researches as well as on the works of Christian and Arabian geographers.
He incidentally says a good deal about the condition of the Jews in
various parts of the world. Indeed, almost all the geographical
writings of Jews are social histories of their brethren in faith.
Somewhat later, David Reubeni published some strange stories as to the
Jews. He went to Rome, where he made a considerable sensation, and was
received by Pope Clement VII (1523-1534). Dwarfish in stature and dark
in complexion, David Reubeni was wasted by continual fasting, but his
manner, though harsh and forbidding, was intrepid and awe-inspiring. His
outrageous falsehoods for a time found ready acceptance with Jews and
Christians alike, and his fervid Messianism won over to his cause many
Marranos--Jews who had been forced by the Inquisition in Spain to assume
the external garb of Christianity. His chief claim on the memory of
posterity was his connection with the dramatic career of Solomon Molcho
(1501-1532), a youth noble in mind and body, who at Reubeni's
instigation personated the Messiah, and in early manhood died a martyr's
death amid the flames of the Inquisition at Mantua.
The geographical literature of the Jews did not lose its association
with Messianic hopes. Antonio de Montesinos, in 1642, imagined that he
had discovered in South America the descendants of the Ten Tribes. He
had been led abroad by business considerations and love of travel, and
in Brazil came across a mestizo Indian, from whose statements he
conceived the firm belief that the Ten Tribes resided and thrived in
Brazil. Two years later he visited Amsterdam, and, his imagination
aflame with the hopes which had not been stifled by several years'
endurance of the prisons and tortures of the Inquisition, persuaded
Manasseh ben Israel to accept his statements. On his death-bed in
Brazil, Montesinos reiterated his assertions, and Manasseh ben Israel
not only founded thereon his noted book, "The Hope of Israel," but under
the inspiration of similar ideas felt impelled to visit London, and win
from Cromwell the right of the Jews to resettle in England.
Jewish geographical literature grew apace in the eighteenth century. A
famous book, the "Work of Tobiah," was written at the beginning of this
period by Tobiah Cohen, who was born at Metz in 1652, and died in
Jerusalem in 1729. It is a medley of science and fiction, an
encyclopedia dealing with all branches of knowledge. He had studied at
the Universities of Frankfort and Padua, had enjoyed the patronage of
the Elector of Brandenburg, and his medical knowledge won him many
distinguished patients in Constantinople. Thus his work contains many
medical chapters of real value, and he gives one of the earliest
accounts of recently discovered drugs and medicinal plants. Among other
curiosities he maintained that he had discovered the Pygmies.
From this absorbing but confusing book our survey must turn finally to
N.H. Wessely, who in 1782 for the first time maintained the importance
of the study of geography in Jewish school education. The works of the
past, with their consoling legends and hopes, continued to hold a place
in the heart of Jewish readers. But from Wessely's time onwards a long
series of Jewish explorers and travellers have joined the ranks of those
who have opened up for modern times a real knowledge of the globe.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 80.
A. Neubauer.--Series of Articles entitled _Where are the Ten Tribes_,
_J.Q.R._, Vol. I.
BENJAMIN OF TUDELA.
A. Asher.--_The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela_ (with English
translation and appendix by Zunz. London, 1840-1).
PETACHIAH OF RATISBON.
A. Benisch.--_Travels of Petachia of Ratisbon_ (with English
translation. London, 1856).
Graetz.--IV, p. 413 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 491 .
Graetz.--V, p. 366 .
HISTORIANS AND CHRONICLERS
Order of the Tannaim and Amoraim.--Achimaaz.--Abraham Ibn
Daud.--Josippon.--Historical Elegies, or Selichoth.--Memorial
Books.--Abraham Zacuto.--Elijah Kapsali.--Usque.--Ibn
Verga.--Joseph Cohen.--David Gans.--Gedaliah Ibn
Yachya.--Azariah di Rossi.
The historical books to be found in the Bible, the Apocrypha, and the
Hellenistic literature prove that the Hebrew genius was not unfitted for
the presentation of the facts of Jewish life. These older works, as well
as the writings of Josephus, also show a faculty for placing local
records in relation to the wider facts of general history. After the
dispersion of the Jews, however, the local was the only history in which
the Jews could bear a part. The Jews read history as a mere commentary
on their own fate, and hence they were unable to take the wide outlook
into the world required for the compilation of objective histories.
Thus, in their aim to find religious consolation for their sufferings in
the Middle Ages, the Jewish historians sought rather to trace the hand
of Providence than to analyze the human causes of the changes in the
affairs of mankind.
But in another sense the Jews were essentially gifted with the
historical spirit. The great men of Israel were not local heroes. Just
as Plutarch's Lives were part of the history of the world's politics, so
Jewish biographies of learned men were part of the history of the
world's civilization. With the "Order of the Tannaim and Amoraim"
(written about the year 1100) begins a series of such biographical
works, in which more appreciation of sober fact is displayed than might
have been expected from the period. In the same way the famous Letter of
Sherira Gaon on the compilation of the Rabbinical literature (980)
marked great progress in the critical examination of historical
problems. Later works did not maintain the same level.
In the Middle Ages, Jewish histories mostly took the form of uncritical
Chronicles, which included legends and traditions as well as assured
facts. Their interest and importance lie in the personal and communal
details with which they abound. Sometimes they are confessedly local.
This is the case with the "Chronicle of Achimaaz," written by him in
1055 in rhymed prose. In an entertaining style, he tells of the early
settlements of the Jews in Southern Italy, and throws much light on the
intercommunication between the scattered Jewish congregations of his
time. A larger canvas was filled by Abraham Ibn Daud, the physician and
philosopher who was born in Toledo in 1110, and met a martyr's end at
the age of seventy. His "Book of Tradition" (_Sefer ha-Kabbalah_),
written in 1161, was designed to present, in opposition to the Karaites,
the chain of Jewish tradition as a series of unbroken links from the
age of Moses to Ibn Baud's own times. Starting with the Creation, his
history ends with the anti-Karaitic crusade of Judah Ibn Ezra in Granada
(1150). Abraham Ibn Daud shows in this work considerable critical power,
but in his two other histories, one dealing with the history of Rome
from its foundation to the time of King Reccared in Spain, the other a
narrative of the history of the Jews during the Second Temple, the
author relied entirely on "Josippon." This was a medieval concoction
which long passed as the original Josephus. "Josippon" was a romance
rather than a history. Culled from all sources, from Strabo, Lucian, and
Eusebius, as well as from Josephus, this marvellous book exercised
strong influence on the Jewish imagination, and supplied an antidote to
the tribulations of the present by the consolations of the past and the
vivid hopes for the future.
For a long period Abraham Ibn Daud found no imitators. Jewish history
was written as part of the Jewish religion. Yet, incidentally, many
historical passages were introduced in the works of Jewish scholars and
travellers, and the liturgy was enriched by many beautiful historical
Elegies, which were a constant call to heroism and fidelity. These
Elegies, or _Selichoth_, were composed throughout the Middle Ages, and
their passionate outpourings of lamentation and trust give them a high
place in Jewish poetry. They are also important historically, and fully
justify the fine utterance with which Zunz introduces them, an utterance
which was translated by George Eliot as follows:
If there are ranks in suffering, Israel takes precedence of
all the nations--if the duration of sorrows and the patience
with which they are borne ennoble, the Jews are among the
aristocracy of every land--if a literature is called rich in
the possession of a few classic tragedies, what shall we say
to a National Tragedy lasting for fifteen hundred years, in
which the poets and the actors were also the heroes?
The story of the medieval section of this pathetic martyrdom is written
in the _Selichoth_ and in the more prosaic records known as "Memorial
Books" (in German, _MemorbŁcher_), which are lists of martyrs and brief
eulogies of their careers.
For the next formal history we must pass to Abraham Zacuto. In his old
age he employed some years of comparative quiet, after a stormy and
unhappy life, in writing a "Book of Genealogies" (_Yuchasin_). He had
been exiled from Spain in 1492, and twelve years later composed his
historical work in Tunis. Like Abraham Ibn Baud's book, it opens with
the Creation, and ends with the author's own day. Though Zacuto's work
is more celebrated than historical, it nevertheless had an important
share in reawaking the dormant interest of Jews in historical research.
Thus we find Elijah Kapsali of Candia writing, in 1523, a "History of
the Ottoman Empire," and Joseph Cohen, of Avignon, a "History of France
and Turkey," in 1554, in which he included an account of the rebellion
of Fiesco in Genoa, where the author was then residing.
The sixteenth century witnessed the production of several popular Jewish
histories. At that epoch the horizon of the world was extending under
new geographical and intellectual discoveries. Israel, on the other
hand, seemed to be sinking deeper and deeper into the slough of despond.
Some of the men who had themselves been the victims of persecution saw
that the only hope lay in rousing the historical consciousness of their
brethren. History became the consolation of the exiles from Spain who
found themselves pent up within the walls of the Ghettos, which were
first built in the sixteenth century. Samuel Usque was a fugitive from
the Inquisition, and his dialogues, "Consolations for the Tribulations
of Israel" (written in Portuguese, in 1553), are a long drawn-out sigh
of pain passing into a sigh of relief. Usque opens with a passionate
idyl in which the history of Israel in the near past is told by the
shepherd Icabo. To him Numeo and Zicareo offer consolation, and they
pour balm into his wounded heart. The vividness of Usque's style, his
historical insight, his sturdy optimism, his poetical force in
interpreting suffering as the means of attaining the highest life in
God, raise his book above the other works of its class and age.
Usque's poem did not win the same popularity as two other elegiac
histories of the same period. These were the "Rod of Judah" (_Shebet
Jehudah_) and the "Valley of Tears" (_Emek ha-Bachah_). The former was
the work of three generations of the Ibn Verga family. Judah died before
the expulsion from Spain, but his son Solomon participated in the final
troubles of the Spanish Jews, and was even forced to join the ranks of
the Marranos. The grandson, Joseph Ibn Verga, became Rabbi in
Adrianople, and was cultured in classical as well as Jewish lore. Their
composite work, "The Rod of Judah," was completed in 1554. It is a
well-written but badly arranged martyrology, and over all its pages
might be inscribed the Talmudical motto, that God's chastisements of
Israel are chastisements of love. The other work referred to is Joseph
Cohen's "Valley of Tears," completed in 1575. The author was born in
Avignon in 1496, four years after his father had shared in the exile
from Spain. He himself suffered expatriation, for, though a
distinguished physician and the private doctor of the Doge Andrea Doria,
he was expelled with the rest of the Jews from Genoa in 1550. Settled in
the little town of Voltaggio, he devoted himself to writing the annals
of European and Jewish history. His style is clear and forcible, and
recalls the lucid simplicity of the historical books of the Bible.
The only other histories that need be critically mentioned here are the
"Branch of David" (_Zemach David_), the "Chain of Tradition"
(_Shalsheleth ha-Kabbalah_), and the "Light of the Eyes" (_MeŲr
Enayim_). Abraham de Porta Leone's "Shields of the Mighty" (_Shilte
ha-Gibborim_, printed in Mantua in 1612); Leon da Modena's "Ceremonies
and Customs of the Jews," (printed in Paris in 1637); David Conforte's
"Call of the Generations" (_Kore ha-Doroth_, written in Palestine in
about 1670); Yechiel Heilprin's "Order of Generations" (_Seder
ha-Doroth_, written in Poland in 1725); and Chayim Azulai's "Name of the
Great Ones" (written in Leghorn in 1774), can receive only a bare
The author of the "Branch of David," David Cans, was born in Westphalia
in about 1540. He was the first German Jew of his age to take real
interest in the study of history. He was a man of scientific culture,
corresponded with Kepler, and was a personal friend of Tycho Brahe. For
the latter Cans made a German translation of parts of the Hebrew
version of the Tables of Alfonso, originally compiled in 1260. Cans
wrote works on mathematical and physical geography, and treatises on
arithmetic and geometry. His history, "Branch of David," was extremely
popular. For a man of his scientific training it shows less critical
power than might have been expected, but the German Jews did not begin
to apply criticism to history till after the age of Mendelssohn. In one
respect, however, the "Branch of David" displays the width of the
author's culture. Not only does he tell the history of the Jews, but in
the second part of his work he gives an account of many lands and
cities, especially of Bohemia and Prague, and adds a striking
description of the secret courts (_Vehmgerichte_) of Westphalia.
It is hard to think that the authors of the "Chain of Tradition" and of
the "Light of the Eyes" were contemporaries. Azariah di Rossi
(1514-1588), the writer of the last mentioned book, was the founder of
historical criticism among the Jews. Elias del Medigo (1463-1498) had
led in the direction, but di Rossi's work anticipated the methods, of
the German school of "scientific" Jewish writers, who, at the beginning
of the present century, applied scientific principles to the study of
Jewish traditions. On the other hand, Gedaliah Ibn Yachya (1515-1587)
was so utterly uncritical that his "Chain of Tradition" was nicknamed by
Joseph Delmedigo the "Chain of Lies." Gedaliah was a man of wealth, and
he expended his means in the acquisition of books and in making journeys
in search of sacred and profane knowledge. Yet Gedaliah made up in style
for his lack of historical method. The "Chain of Tradition" is a
picturesque and enthralling book, it is a warm and cheery retrospect,
and even deserves to be called a prose epic. Besides, many of his
statements that were wont to be treated as altogether unauthentic have
been vindicated by later research. Azariah di Rossi, on the other hand,
is immortalized by his spirit rather than his actual contributions to
historical literature. He came of an ancient family said to have been
carried to Rome by Titus, and lived in Ferrara, where, in 1574, he
produced his "Light of the Eyes." This is divided into three parts, the
first devoted to general history, the second to the Letter of Aristeas,
the third to the solution of several historical problems, all of which
had been neglected by Jews and Christians alike. Azariah di Rossi was
the first critic to open up true lines of research into the Hellenistic
literature of the Jews of Alexandria. With him the true historical
spirit once more descended on the Jewish genius.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 75, _seq._, 250
A. Neubauer.--Introductions to _Medieval Jewish Chronicles_,
Vols. I and II (Oxford, 1882, etc.).
Zunz.--_Sufferings of the Jews in the Middle Ages_ (translated by
A. LŲwy, _Miscellany of the Society of Hebrew Literature_,
Vol. I). See also _J.Q.R._, VIII, pp. 78, 426, 611.
ABRAHAM IBN DAUD.
Graetz.--III, p. 363 .
Graetz.--IV, pp. 366, 367, 391 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 406 .
JOSEPH COHEN, USQUE, IBN VERGA.
Graetz.--IV, p. 555 .
_Chronicle of Joseph ben Joshua the Priest_ (English translation
by Bialoblotzky. London, 1835-6).
Graetz.--IV, p. 290 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 638 .
GEDALIAH IBN YACHYA.
Graetz.--IV, p. 609 .
AZARIAH DI ROSSI.
Graetz.--IV, p. 614 .
Abarbanel's Philosophy and Biblical Commentaries.--Elias
Levita.--ZeŽna u-ReŽna.--Moses Alshech.--The Biur.
The career of Don Isaac Abarbanel (born in Lisbon in 1437, died in
Venice in 1509) worthily closes the long services which the Jews of
Spain rendered to the state and to learning. The earlier part of his
life was spent in the service of Alfonso V of Portugal. He possessed
considerable wealth, and his house, which he himself tells us was built
with spacious halls, was the meeting-place of scholars, diplomatists,
and men of science. Among his other occupations, he busied himself in
ransoming Jewish slaves, and obtained the co-operation of some Italian
Jews in this object.
When Alfonso died, Abarbanel not only lost his post as finance
minister, but was compelled to flee for his life. He shared the fall of
the Duke of Braganza, whose popularity was hateful to Alfonso's
successor. Don Isaac escaped to Castile in 1484, and, amid the friendly
smiles of the cultured Jews of Toledo, set himself to resume the
literary work he had been forced to lay aside while burdened with
affairs of state. He began the compilation of commentaries on the
historical books of the Bible, but he was not long left to his studies.
Ferdinand and Isabella, under the very eyes of Torquemada and the
Inquisition, entrusted the finances of their kingdom to the Jew
Abarbanel during the years 1484 to 1492.
In the latter year, Abarbanel was driven from Spain in the general
expulsion instigated by the Inquisition. He found a temporary asylum in
Naples, where he also received a state appointment. But he was soon
forced to flee again, this time to Corfu. "My wife, my sons, and my
books are far from me," he wrote, "and I am left alone, a stranger in a
strange land." But his spirit was not crushed by these successive
misfortunes. He continued to compile huge works at a very rapid rate. He
was not destined, however, to end his life in obscurity. In 1503 he was
given a diplomatic post in Venice, and he passed his remaining years in
happiness and honor. He ended the splendid roll of famous Spanish Jews
with a career peculiarly Spanish. He gave a final, striking example of
that association of life with literature which of old characterized
Jews, but which found its greatest and last home in Spain.
As a writer, Abarbanel has many faults. He is very verbose, and his
mannerisms are provoking. Thus, he always introduces his commentaries
with a long string of questions, which he then proceeds to answer. It
was jokingly said of him that he made many sceptics, for not one in a
score of his readers ever got beyond the questions to the answers.
There is this truth in the sarcasm, that Abarbanel, despite his
essential lucidity, is very hard to read. Though Abarbanel has obvious
faults, his good qualities are equally tangible. No predecessor of
Abarbanel came so near as he did to the modern ideal of a commentator on
the Bible. Ibn Ezra was the father of the "Higher Criticism," i.e. the
attempt to explain the evolution of the text of Scripture. The Kimchis
developed the strictly grammatical exposition of the Bible. But
Abarbanel understood that, to explain the Bible, one must try to
reproduce the atmosphere in which it was written; one must realize the
ideas and the life of the times with which the narrative deals. His own
practical state-craft stood him in good stead. He was able to form a
conception of the politics of ancient Judea. His commentaries are works
on the philosophy of history. His more formal philosophical works, such
as his "Deeds of God" (_Miphaloth Elohim_), are of less value, they are
borrowed in the main from Maimonides. In his Talmudical writings,
notably his "Salvation of his Anointed" (_Yeshuoth Meshicho_), Abarbanel
displays a lighter and more original touch than in his philosophical
treatises. But his works on the Bible are his greatest literary
achievement. Besides the merits already indicated, these books have
another important excellence. He was the first Jew to make extensive use
of Christian commentaries. He must be credited with the discovery that
the study of the Bible may be unsectarian, and that all who hold the
Bible in honor may join hands in elucidating it.
A younger contemporary of Abarbanel was also an apostle of the same
view. This was Elias Levita (1469-1549). He was a Grammarian, or
Massorite, i.e. a student of the tradition (_Massorah_) as to the
Hebrew text of the Bible, and he was an energetic teacher of
Christians. In the sixteenth century the study of Hebrew made much
progress in Europe, but the Jews themselves were only indirectly
associated with this advance. Despite Abarbanel, Jewish commentaries
remained either homiletic or mystical, or, like the popular works of
Moses Alshech, were more or less Midrashic in style. But the Bible was a
real delight to the Jews, and it is natural that such books were often
compiled for the masses. Mention must be made of the _ZeŽna u-ReŽna_
("Go forth and see"), a work written at the beginning of the eighteenth
century in Jewish-German for the use of women, a work which is still
beloved of the Jewess. But the seeds sown by Abarbanel and others of his
school eventually produced an abundant harvest. Mendelssohn's German
edition of the Pentateuch with the Hebrew Commentary (_Biur_) was the
turning-point in the march towards the modern exposition of the Bible,
which had been inaugurated by the statesman-scholar of Spain.
I.S. Meisels.--_Don Isaac Abarbanel_, _J.Q.R._, II, p. 37.
S. Schechter.--_Studies in Judaism_, p. 173 .
F.D. Mocatta.--_The Jews of Spain and Portugal and the Inquisition_
Schiller-Szinessy.--_Encycl. Brit._, Vol. I, p. 52.
EXEGESIS 16th-18th CENTURIES.
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 232 _seq._
_Specimen of the Biur_, translated by A. Benisch (_Miscellany
of the Society of Hebrew Literature_, Vol. I).
THE SHULCHAN ARUCH
Asheri's Arba Turim.--Chiddushim and Teshuboth.--Solomon ben
Adereth.--Meir of Rothenburg.--Sheshet and Duran.--Moses and
Judah Minz.--Jacob Weil, Israel Isserlein, Maharil.--David Abi
Zimra.--Joseph Karo.--Jair Bacharach.--Chacham Zevi.--Jacob
The religious literature of the Jews, so far as practical life was
concerned, culminated in the publication of the "Table Prepared"
(_Shulchan Aruch_), in 1565. The first book of its kind compiled after
the invention of printing, the Shulchan Aruch obtained a popularity
denied to all previous works designed to present a digest of Jewish
ethics and ritual observances. It in no sense superseded the "Strong
Hand" of Maimonides, but it was so much more practical in its scope, so
much clearer as a work of general reference, so much fuller of
_Minhag_, or established custom, that it speedily became the universal
hand-book of Jewish life in many of its phases. It was not accepted in
all its parts, and its blemishes were clearly perceived. The author,
Joseph Karo, was too tender to the past, and admitted some things which
had a historical justification, but which Karo himself would have been
the first to reject as principles of conduct for his own or later times.
On the whole, the book was a worthy summary of the fundamental Jewish
view, that religion is co-extensive with life, and that everything worth
doing at all ought to be done in accordance with a general principle of
obedience to the divine will. The defects of such a view are the defects
of its qualities.
The Shulchan Aruch was the outcome of centuries of scholarship. It was
original, yet it was completely based on previous works. In particular
the "Four Rows" (_Arbša Turim_) of Jacob Asheri (1283-1340) was one of
the main sources of Karo's work. The "Four Rows," again, owed everything
to Jacob's father, Asher, the son of Yechiel, who migrated from Germany
to Toledo at the very beginning of the fourteenth century. But besides
the systematic codes of his predecessors, Karo was able to draw on a
vast mass of literature on the Talmud and on Jewish Law, accumulated in
the course of centuries.
There was, in the first place, a large collection of "Novelties"
(_Chiddushim_), or Notes on the Talmud, by various authorities. More
significant, however, were the "Responses" (_Teshuboth_), which
resembled those of the Gaonim referred to in an earlier chapter. The
Rabbinical Correspondence, in the form of Responses to Questions sent
from far and near, covered the whole field of secular and religious
knowledge. The style of these "Responses" was at first simple, terse,
and full of actuality. The most famous representatives of this form of
literature after the Gaonim were both of the thirteenth century,
Solomon, the son of Adereth, in Spain, and Meir of Rothenburg in
Germany. Solomon, the son of Adereth, of Barcelona, was a man whose
moral earnestness, mild yet firm disposition, profound erudition, and
tolerant character, won for him a supreme place in Jewish life for half
a century. Meir of Rothenburg was a poet and martyr as well as a
profound scholar. He passed many years in prison rather than yield to
the rapacious demands of the local government for a ransom, which Meir's
friends would willingly have paid. As a specimen of Meir's poetry, the
following verses are taken from a dirge composed by him in 1285, when
copies of the Pentateuch were publicly committed to the flames. The
"Law" is addressed in the second person:
Dismay hath seized upon my soul; how then
Can food be sweet to me?
When, O thou Law! I have beheld base men
Ah! sweet 'twould be unto mine eyes alway
Waters of tears to pour,
To sob and drench thy sacred robes, till they
Could hold no more.
But lo! my tears are dried, when, fast outpoured,
They down my cheeks are shed,
Scorched by the fire within, because thy Lord
Hath turned and sped.
Yea, I am desolate and sore bereft,
Lo! a forsaken one,
Like a sole beacon on a mountain left,
A tower alone.
I hear the voice of singers now no more,
Silence their song hath bound,
For broken are the strings on harps of yore,
Viols of sweet sound.
I am astonied that the day's fair light
Yet shineth brilliantly
On all things; but is ever dark as night
To me and thee.
* * * * *
Even as when thy Rock afflicted thee,
He will assuage thy woe,
And turn again the tribes' captivity,
And raise the low.
Yet shalt thou wear thy scarlet raiment choice,
And sound the timbrels high,
And glad amid the dancers shalt rejoice,
With joyful cry.
My heart shall be uplifted on the day
Thy Rock shall be thy light,
When he shall make thy gloom to pass away,
Thy darkness bright.
This combination of the poetical with the legal mind was parallelled by
other combinations in such masters of "Responses" as the Sheshet and
Duran families in Algiers in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In
these men depth of learning was associated with width of culture.
Others, such as Moses and Judah Minz, Jacob Weil, and Israel Isserlein,
whose influence was paramount in Germany in the fifteenth century, were
less cultivated, but their learning was associated with a geniality and
sense of humor that make their "Responses" very human and very
entertaining. There is the same homely, affectionate air in the
collection of _Minhagim_, or Customs, known as the _Maharil_, which
belongs to the same period. On the other hand, David Abi Zimra, Rabbi of
Cairo in the sixteenth century, was as independent as he was learned. It
was he, for instance, who abolished the old custom of dating Hebrew
documents from the Seleucid era (311 B.C.E.). And, to pass beyond the
time of Karo, the writers of "Responses" include the gifted Jair Chayim
Bacharach (seventeenth century), a critic as well as a legalist; Chacham
Zevi and Jacob Emden in Amsterdam, and Ezekiel Landau in Prague, the
former two of whom opposed the Messianic claims of Sabbatai Zevi, and
the last of whom was an antagonist to the Germanizing tendency of Moses
Joseph Karo himself was a man of many parts. He was born in Spain in
1488, and died in Safed, the nest of mysticism, in 1575. Master of the
Talmudic writings of his predecessors from his youth, Karo devoted
thirty-two years to the preparation of an exhaustive commentary on the
"Four Rows" of Jacob Asheri. This occupied him from 1522 to 1554. Karo
was an enthusiast as well as a student, and the emotional side of the
Kabbala had much fascination for him. He believed that he had a
familiar, or _Maggid_, the personification of the Mishnah, who appeared
to him in dreams, and held communion with him. He found a congenial home
in Safed, where the mystics had their head-quarters in the sixteenth
century. Karo's companion on his journey to Safed was Solomon Alkabets,
author of the famous Sabbath hymn "Come, my Friend" (_Lecha Dodi_), with
Come forth, my friend, the Bride to meet,
Come, O my friend, the Sabbath greet!
The Shulchan Aruch is arranged in four parts, called fancifully, "Path
of Life" (_Orach Chayim_), "Teacher of Knowledge" (_Yoreh Deah_),
"Breastplate of Judgment" (_Choshen ha-Mishpat_), and "Stone of Help"
(_Eben ha-Ezer_). The first part is mainly occupied with the subject of
prayer, benedictions, the Sabbath, the festivals, and the observances
proper to each. The second part deals with food and its preparation,
_Shechitah_, or slaughtering of animals for food, the relations between
Jews and non-Jews, vows, respect to parents, charity, and religious
observances connected with agriculture, such as the payment of tithes,
and, finally, the rites of mourning. This section of the Shulchan Aruch
is the most miscellaneous of the four; in the other three the
association of subjects is more logical. The Eben ha-Ezer treats of the
laws of marriage and divorce from their civil and religious aspects. The
Choshen ha-Mishpat deals with legal procedure, the laws regulating
business transactions and the relations between man and man in the
conduct of worldly affairs. A great number of commentaries on Karo's
Code were written by and for the _Acharonim_ (=later scholars). It fully
deserved this attention, for on its own lines the Shulchan Aruch was a
masterly production. It brought system into the discordant opinions of
the Rabbinical authorities of the Middle Ages, and its publication in
the sixteenth century was itself a stroke of genius. Never before had
such a work been so necessary as then. The Jews were in sight of what
was to them the darkest age, the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Though the Shulchan Aruch had an evil effect in stereotyping Jewish
religious thought and in preventing the rapid spread of the critical
spirit, yet it was a rallying point for the disorganized Jews, and saved
them from the disintegration which threatened them. The Shulchan Aruch
was the last great bulwark of the Rabbinical conception of life. Alike
in its form and contents it was a not unworthy close to the series of
codes which began with the Mishnah, and in which life itself was
Steinschneider.--_Jewish Literature_, p. 213 _seq._
I.H. Weiss.--On _Codes_, _J.Q.R._, I, p. 289.
ASHER BEN YECHIEL.
Graetz.--IV, p. 34 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 88 .
SOLOMON BEN ADERETH.
Graetz.--III, p. 618 .
MEIR OF ROTHENBURG.
Graetz.--III, pp. 625, 638 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 294 .
S. Schechter.--_Studies in Judaism_, p. 142 .
DAVID BEN ABI ZIMRA.
Graetz.--IV, p. 393 .
JAIR CHAYIM BACHARACH.
D. Kaufmann, _J.Q.R._, III, p. 292, etc.
Graetz.--IV, p. 537 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 637 .
Graetz.--IV, p. 641 .
AMSTERDAM IN THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
Manasseh ben Israel.--Baruch Spinoza.--The Drama in
Hebrew.--Moses Zacut, Joseph Felix Penso, Moses Chayim
Holland was the centre of Jewish hope in the seventeenth century, and
among its tolerant and cultivated people the Marranos, exiled from Spain
and Portugal, founded a new Jerusalem. Two writers of Marrano origin,
wide as the poles asunder in gifts of mind and character, represented
two aspects of the aspiration of the Jews towards a place in the wider
world. Manasseh ben Israel (1604-1657) was an enthusiast who based his
ambitious hopes on the Messianic prophecies; Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677)
lacked enthusiasm, had little belief in the verbal promises of
Scripture, yet developed a system of ethics in which God filled the
world. Manasseh ben Israel regained for the Jews admission to England;
Spinoza reclaimed the right of a Jew to a voice in the philosophy of the
world. Both were political thinkers who maintained the full rights of
the individual conscience, and though the arguments used vary
considerably, yet Manasseh ben Israel's splendid _Vindiciś Judeorum_ and
Spinoza's "Tractate" alike insist on the natural right of men to think
freely. They anticipated some of the greatest principles that won
acceptance at the end of the eighteenth century.
Manasseh ben Israel was born in Lisbon of Marrano parents, who emigrated
to Amsterdam a few years after their son's birth. He displayed a
youthful talent for oratory, and was a noted preacher in his teens. He
started the first Hebrew printing-press established in Amsterdam, and
from it issued many works still remarkable for the excellence of their
type and general workmanship. Manasseh was himself, not only a
distinguished linguist, but a popularizer of linguistic studies. He
wrote well in Hebrew, Latin, English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and was
the means of instructing many famous Christians of the day in Hebrew and
Rabbinic. Among his personal friends were Vossius, who translated
Manasseh's "Conciliator" from Spanish into Latin. This, the most
important of Manasseh's early writings, was as popular with Christians
as with Jews, for it attempted to reconcile the discrepancies and
contradictions apparent in the Bible. Another of his friends was the
painter Rembrandt, who, in 1636, etched the portrait of Manasseh. Huet
and Grotius were also among the friends and disciples who gathered round
the Amsterdam Rabbi.
An unexpected result of Manasseh ben Israel's zeal for the promotion of
Hebrew studies among his own brethren was the rise of a new form of
poetical literature. The first dramas in Hebrew belong to this period.
Moses Zacut and Joseph Felix Penso wrote Hebrew dramas in the first half
of the seventeenth century in Amsterdam. The "Foundation of the World"
by the former and the "Captives of Hope" by the latter possess little
poetical merit, but they are interesting signs of the desire of Jews to
use Hebrew for all forms of literary art. Hence these dramas were hailed
as tokens of Jewish revival. Strangely enough, the only great writer of
Hebrew plays, Moses Chayim Luzzatto (1707-1747), was also resident in
Amsterdam. Luzzatto wrote under the influence of the Italian poet
Guarini. His metres, his long soliloquies, his lyrics, his dovetailing
of rural and urban scenery, are all directly traceable to Guarini.
Luzzatto was nevertheless an original poet. His mastery of Hebrew was
complete, and his rich fancy was expressed in glowing lines. His dramas,
"Samson," the "Strong Tower," and "Glory to the Virtuous," show
classical refinement and freshness of touch, which have made them the
models of all subsequent efforts of Hebrew dramatists.
Manasseh ben Israel did not allow himself to become absorbed in the
wider interests opened out to him by his intimacy with the greatest
Christian scholars of his day. He prepared a Spanish translation of the
Pentateuch for the Amsterdam Jews, who were slow to adopt Dutch as their
speech, a fact not wonderful when it is remembered that literary Dutch
was only then forming. Manasseh also wrote at this period a Hebrew
treatise on immortality. His worldly prosperity was small, and he even
thought of emigrating to Brazil. But the friends of the scholar found a
post for him in a new college for the study of Hebrew, a college to
which it is probable that Spinoza betook himself. In the meantime the
reports of Montesinos as to the presence of the Lost Ten Tribes in
America turned the current of Manasseh's life. In 1650 he wrote his
famous essay, the "Hope of Israel," which he dedicated to the English
Parliament. He argued that, as a preliminary to the restoration of
Israel, or the millennium, for which the English Puritans were eagerly
looking, the dispersion of Israel must be complete. The hopes of the
millennium were doomed to disappointment unless the Jews were readmitted
to England, "the isle of the Northern Sea." His dedication met with a
friendly reception, Manasseh set out for England in 1655, and obtained
from Cromwell a qualified consent to the resettlement of the Jews in the
land from which they had been expelled in 1290.
The pamphlets which Manasseh published in England deserve a high place
in literature and in the history of modern thought. They are
immeasurably superior to his other works, which are eloquent but
diffuse, learned but involved. But in his _Vindiciś Judeorum_ (1656)
his style and thought are clear, original, elevated. There are here no
mystic irrelevancies. His remarks are to the point, sweetly reasonable,
forcible, moderate. He grapples with the medieval prejudices against the
Jews in a manner which places his works among the best political
pamphlets ever written. Morally, too, his manner is noteworthy. He
pleads for Judaism in a spirit equally removed from arrogance and
self-abasement. He is dignified in his persuasiveness. He appeals to a
sense of justice rather than mercy, yet he writes as one who knows that
justice is the rarest and highest quality of human nature; as one who
knows that humbly to express gratitude for justice received is to do
reverence to the noblest faculty of man.
Fate rather than disposition tore Manasseh from his study to plead
before the English Parliament. Baruch Spinoza was spared such
distraction. Into his self-contained life the affairs of the world
could effect no entry. It is not quite certain whether Spinoza was born
in Amsterdam. He must, at all events, have come there in his early
youth. He may have been a pupil of Manasseh, but his mind was nurtured
on the philosophical treatises of Maimonides and Crescas. His thought
became sceptical, and though he was "intoxicated with a sense of God,"
he had no love for any positive religion. He learned Latin, and found
new avenues opened to him in the writings of Descartes. His associations
with the representatives of the Cartesian philosophy and his own
indifference to ceremonial observances brought him into collision with
the Synagogue, and, in 1656, during the absence of Manasseh in England,
Spinoza was excommunicated by the Amsterdam Rabbis. Spinoza was too
strong to seek the weak revenge of an abjuration of Judaism. He went on
quietly earning a living as a maker of lenses; he refused a
professorship, preferring, like Maimonides before him, to rely on other
than literary pursuits as a means of livelihood.
In 1670 Spinoza finished his "Theologico-Political Tractate," in which
some bitterness against the Synagogue is apparent. His attack on the
Bible is crude, but the fundamental principles of modern criticism are
here anticipated. The main importance of the "Tractate" lay in the
doctrine that the state has full rights over the individual, except in
relation to freedom of thought and free expression of thought. These are
rights which no human being can alienate to the state. Of Spinoza's
greatest work, the "Ethics," it need only be said that it was one of the
most stimulating works of modern times. A child of Judaism and of
Cartesianism, Spinoza won a front place among the great teachers of
MANASSEH BEN ISRAEL.
H. Adler.--_Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of
England_, Vol. I, p. 25.
Kayserling.--_Miscellany of the Society of Hebrew Literature_,
Lady Magnus.--_Jewish Portraits_, p. 109.
English translations of works, _Vindiciś Judeorum_, _Hope of Israel_,
_The Conciliator_ (E.H. Lindo, 1841, etc.).
J. Freudenthal.--_History of Spinozism_, _J.Q.R._, VIII, p. 17.
Karpeles.--_Jewish Literature and other Essays_, p. 229.
Abrahams.--_Jewish Life in the Middle Ages_, ch. 14.
Graetz,--V, pp, 112 , 234 .
Mendelssohn's German Translation of the
Bible.--Phśdo.--Jerusalem.--Lessing's "Nathan the Wise."
Moses, the son of Mendel, was born in Dessau in 1728, and died in Berlin
in 1786. His father was poor, and he himself was of a weak constitution.
But his stunted form was animated by a strenuous spirit. After a boyhood
passed under conditions which did little to stimulate his dawning
aspirations, Mendelssohn resolved to follow his teacher Fršnkel to
Berlin. He trudged the whole way on foot, and was all but refused
admission into the Prussian capital, where he was destined to produce so
profound an impression. In Berlin his struggle with poverty continued,
but his condition was improved when he obtained a post, first as
private tutor, then as book-keeper in a silk factory.
Berlin was at this time the scene of an intellectual and śsthetic
revival dominated by Frederick the Great. The latter, a dilettante in
culture, was, as Mendelssohn said of him, a man "who made the arts and
sciences flourish, and made liberty of thought universal in his realm."
The German Jews were as yet outside this revival. In Italy and Holland
the new movements of the seventeenth and the eighteenth century had
found Jews well to the fore. But the "German" Jews--and this term
included the great bulk of the Jews of Europe--were suffering from the
effects of intellectual stagnation. The Talmud still exercised the mind
and imagination of these Jews, but culture and religion were separated.
Mendelssohn in a hundred places contends that such separation is
dangerous and unnatural. It was his service to Judaism that he made the
separation once for all obsolete.
Mendelssohn effected this by purely literary means. Most reformations
have been at least aided by moral and political forces. But the
Mendelssohnian revival in Judaism was a literary revival, in which moral
and religious forces had only an indirect influence. By the aid of
greater refinement of language, for hitherto the "German" Jews had not
spoken pure German; by a widening of the scope of education in the
Jewish schools; by the introduction of all that is known as culture,
Mendelssohn changed the whole aspect of Jewish life. And he produced
this reformation by books and by books alone. Never playing the part of
a religious or moral reformer, Mendelssohn became the Jewish apostle of
The great event of his life occurred in 1754, when he made the
acquaintance of Lessing. The two young men became constant friends.
Lessing, before he knew Mendelssohn, had written a drama, "The Jews," in
which, perhaps for the first time, a Jew was represented on the stage as
a man of honor. In Mendelssohn, Lessing recognized a new Spinoza; in
Lessing, Mendelssohn saw the perfect ideal of culture. The masterpiece
of Lessing's art, the drama "Nathan the Wise," was the monument of this
friendship. Mendelssohn was the hero of the drama, and the toleration
which it breathes is clearly Mendelssohn's. Mendelssohn held that there
was no absolutely best religion any more than there was an absolutely
best form of government. This was the leading idea of his last work,
"Jerusalem"; it is also the central thought of "Nathan the Wise." The
best religion, according to both, is the religion which best brings out
the individual's noblest faculties. As Mendelssohn wrote, there are
certain eternal truths which God implants in all men alike, but "Judaism
boasts of no exclusive revelation of immutable truths indispensable to
What has just been quoted is one of the last utterances of Mendelssohn.
We must retrace our steps to the date of his first intimacy with
Lessing. He devoted his attention to the perfecting of his German style,
and succeeded so well that his writings have gained a place among the
classics of German literature. In 1763, he won the Berlin prize for an
essay on Mathematical Method in Philosophical Reasoning, and defeated
Kant entirely on account of his lucid and attractive style.
Mendelssohn's most popular philosophical work, "Phśdo, or the
Immortality of the Soul," won extraordinary popularity in Berlin, as
much for its attractive form as for its spiritual charms. The "German
Plato," the "Jewish Socrates," were some of the epithets bestowed on him
by multitudes of admirers. Indeed, the "Phśdo" of Mendelssohn is a work
of rare beauty.
One of the results of Mendelssohn's popularity was a curious
correspondence with Lavater. The latter perceived in Mendelssohn's
toleration signs of weakness, and believed that he could convert the
famous Jew to Christianity. Mendelssohn's reply, like his "Jerusalem"
and his admirable preface to a German translation of Manasseh ben
Israel's _Vindiciś Judeorum_, gave voice to that claim on personal
liberty of thought and conscience for which the Jews, unconsciously, had
been so long contending. Mendelssohn's view was that all true religious
aspirations are independent of religious forms. Mendelssohn did not
ignore the value of forms, but he held that as there are often several
means to the same end, so the various religious forms of the various
creeds may all lead their respective adherents to salvation and to God.
Mendelssohn's most epoch-making work was his translation of the
Pentateuch into German. With this work the present history finds a
natural close. Mendelssohn's Pentateuch marks the modernization of the
literature of Judaism. There was much opposition to the book, but on the
other hand many Jews eagerly scanned its pages, acquired its noble
diction, and committed its rhythmic eloquence to their hearts. Round
Mendelssohn there clustered a band of devoted disciples, the pioneers of
the new learning, the promoters of a literature of Judaism, in which the
modern spirit reanimated the still living records of antiquity. There
was certainly some weakness among the men and women affected by the
Berlin philosopher, for some discarded all positive religion, because
the master had taught that all positive religions had their saving and
It is not, however, the province of this sketch to trace the religious
effects of the Mendelssohnian movement. Suffice it to say that, while
the old Jewish conception had been that literature and life are
co-extensive, Jewish literature begins with Mendelssohn to have an
independent life of its own, a life of the spirit, which cannot be
altogether controlled by the tribulations of material life. A physical
Ghetto may once more be imposed on the Jews from without; an
intellectual Ghetto imposed from within is hardly conceivable. Tolerance
gave the modern spirit to Jewish literature, but intolerance cannot
Karpeles.--_Sketch of Jewish History_, p. 93; _Jewish Literature
and other Essays_, p. 293.
English translations of _Phśdo, Jerusalem_, and of the
_Introduction to the Pentateuch_ (_Hebrew Review_, Vol. I).
Other translations of _Jerusalem_ were made by M. Samuels (London,
1838) and by Isaac Leeser, the latter published as a supplement to the
_Occident_, Philadelphia, 5612.
THE MENDELSSOHNIAN MOVEMENT.
Abayi, Amora, 51.
Abba Areka, Amora, 47, 48, 51.
popularizes Jewish learning, 49.
wide outlook of, 50.
Abbahu, Amora, 48-49.
Abraham de Balmes, translator, 149.
Abraham de Porta Leone, historian, 220.
Abraham Ibn Chisdai, story by, 154-155.
Abraham Ibn Daud, historian, 213-214.
Abraham Ibn Ezra, on Kalir, 88.
life of, 115.
quotations from, 115.
activities and views of, 116, 123, 151.
Abraham Abulafia, Kabbalist, 171.
Abraham Farissol, geographer, 206.
Abraham Zacuto, historian, 216.
Abul-Faraj Harun, Karaite author, 77.
Abulwalid Merwan Ibn Janach, grammarian, 101.
works of, translated, 148.
Achai, Gaon and author, 70.
Acharonim, later scholars, 240.
∆sop, used by Berachya ha-Nakdan, 157.
"Against Apion," by Josephus, 34.
Akiba, a Tanna, 23, 24-26.
characteristics and history of, 24-26.
school of, 26.
fable used by, 65.
Alphabet by, 175.
Al-Farabi, works of, translated, 185.
Alfassi. _See_ Isaac Alfassi.
Alfonso V of Portugal, Abarbanel with, 225.
Alfonso VI of Spain, takes Toledo, 126.
Alfonso X of Spain, employs Jews as translators, 150, 156.
Almohades, the, a Mohammedan sect, 134, 135.
"Alphabet of Rabbi Akiba," Kabbalistic work, 175.
Amoraim, the, teachers of the Talmud, 44.
some of, enumerated, 46-52.
Amram, Gaon, liturgist, 70.
Anan, the son of David, founder of Karaism, 75.
Andalusia, the Spanish Piyut in, 85.
"Answers." _See_ "Letters"; "Responses."
"Antiquities of the Jews," by Josephus, 34.
Antonio de Montesinos, and the Ten Tribes, 208, 247.
Apion, attacks Judaism, 36.
Apocrypha, the, addresses of parents to children in, 194.
Aquila, translates the Scriptures, 26.
identical with Onkelos, 26-27.
Aquinas, Thomas, studies the "Guide," 140.
Arabic, used by the Gaonim, 71.
in Jewish literature, 83.
translation of the Scriptures, 91, 93, 94.
commentary on the Mishnah, 135.
Aragon, Spanish Piyut in, 85.
Aramaic, translation of the Pentateuch, 27.
used by Josephus, 37.
language of the Talmud, 44.
used by the Gaonim, 71.
translation of Scriptures in the synagogues, 94.
language of the Zohar, 173.
Arbša Turim, code by Jacob Asheri, 234, 239.
Archimedes, works of, translated, 150, 185.
Aristotle, teachings of, summarized, 140.
interpreted by Averroes, 149.
works of, translated, 185.
Aruch, the, compiled by Zemach, 70.
by Nathan, the son of Yechiel, 121, 200.
Asher, the son of Yechiel, the will of, 195-196.
Ashi, Amora, compiler of the Talmud, 51-52.
Atonement, the Day of, hymn for, 162.
"Autobiography," the, of Josephus, 34.
Averroes, works of, translated, 148, 149, 185.
Azariah di Rossi, historian, 221-222, 223.
Azriel, Kabbalist, 171.
Azulai, Chayim, historian, 220.
Babylonia, Rabbinical schools in, 44.
centre of Jewish learning, 49, 68.
loses its supremacy, 92.
Bachya Ibn Pekuda, works of, translated, 148.
ethical work by, 190.
Bacon, Roger, on the scientific activity of the Jew, 150.
Bahir, Kabbalistic work, 171.
Bar Cochba, Akiba in the revolt of, 24.
"Barlaam and Joshaphat," by Abraham Ibn Chisdai, 154-155.
Baruch of Ratisbon, Tossafist, 161.
Beast Fables, in the Midrash, 64-67.
examples of, 65-66.
Bechinath Olam, by Yedaiah Bedaressi, 191-192.
Benjamin of Tudela, traveller, 203.
Benjamin Nahavendi, Karaite author, 77.
Berachya ha-Nakdan, fabulist, 156-157.
Berlin, under Frederick the Great, 254.
Beruriah, wife of Meir, 28.
Bible, the. _See_ Scriptures, the.
Bidpai, Fables of, and the Jews, 155-156.
Biur, the, commentary on the Pentateuch, 230.
Bohemia, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
"Book of Creation, The," Kabbalistic work, 175.
"Book of Creation, Commentary on the," by Saadiah, 95.
"Book of Delight, The," by Joseph Zabara, 157-158.
"Book of Genealogies, The," by Abraham Zacuto, 216.
"Book of Lights and the High Beacons, The," by Kirkisani, 80.
"Book of Principles, The," by Joseph Albo, 141.
"Book of Roots, The," by David Kimchi, 117.
"Book Raziel, The," Kabbalistic work, 175.
"Book of the Exiled, The," by Saadiah, 94.
"Book of the Pious, The," ethical work, 191.
"Book of Tradition, The," by Abraham Ibn Daud, 213-214.
Braganza, Duke of, friend of Abarbanel, 226.
Brahe, Tycho, friend of David Gans, 220.
"Branch of David, The," by David Gans, 219, 220-221.
"Breastplate of Judgment, The," part of the Shulchan Aruch, 240.
"Brilliancy," Kabbalistic work, 171.
Browne, Sir Thomas, alluded to, 127.
Buddha, legend of, 154-155.
Burgundy, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
Buxtorf, as translator, 148.
"Caged Bird, The," fable, 65.
Cairo, Old. _See_ Fostat.
Calendar, the Jewish, arranged, 48.
"Call of the Generations, The," by David Conforte, 220.
"Captives of Hope, The," by Penso, 246.
Castile, the Spanish Piyut in, 85.
Catalonia, the Spanish Piyut in, 85.
"Ceremonies and Customs of the Jews," by Leon da Modena, 220.
Chacham Zevi, author of "Responses," 238.
"Chaff, Straw, and Wheat," fable, 65.
"Chain of Tradition, The," by Gedaliah Ibn Yachya, 220, 222-223.
Chanina, the son of Chama, Amora, 46.
Charizi, on Chasdai, 99-100, 107.
on Moses Ibn Ezra, 114.
as a poet, 131-132.
influences Immanuel of Rome, 184.
ethical work by, 189.
geographical notes by, 200.
Chasdai Ibn Shaprut, patron of Moses ben Chanoch, 97.
Charizi on, 99-100, 107.
activities of, 100.
as a patron of Jewish learning and poetry, 100-101, 102.
and the Chazars, 102-103.
as translator, 150.
Chasdai Crescas, philosopher, 141.
studied by Spinoza, 251.
Chassidim, the, new saints, 176.
hymns by, 177.
Chayim Vital Calabrese, Kabbalist, 176.
Chazars, the, and Chasdai Ibn Shaprut, 102-103.
Chiddushim, Notes on the Talmud, 234.
Chiya, Amora, 49.
Chizzuk Emunah, by Isaac Troki, 81.
Choboth ha-Lebaboth, by Bachya Ibn Pekuda, 190.
"Choice of Pearls, The," by Solomon Ibn Gebirol, 110, 189.
Choshen ha-Mishpat, part of the Shulchan Aruch, 240.
"Chronicle of Achimaaz," 213.
Clement VII, pope, and David Reubeni, 207.
"Cluster of Cyprus Flowers, A," by Judah Hadassi, 80.
"Cock and the Bat, The," fable, 65.
Cohen, Tobiah, geographer, 209.
"Collections." _See_ Machberoth.
"Come, my Friend," Sabbath hymn, 239.
"Conciliator, The," by Manasseh ben Israel, 245.
"Consolations for the Tribulations of Israel," by Samuel Usque, 217-218.
Constantine, forbids Jews to enter Jerusalem, 205.
Cordova, centre of Arabic learning, 96-97.
a Jewish centre, 103, 112.
in the hands of the Almohades, 134.
Corfu, Abarbanel in, 226.
Council, the Great. _See_ Synhedrion, the.
Cromwell, and Manasseh ben Israel, 248.
Crusades, the, and the Jews of France, 124.
Cuzari, by Jehuda Halevi, 127, 139.
Damascus, Jehuda Halevi in, 129.
Daniel, the Book of, commentary on, 48.
Dante, influences Jewish poets, 179, 182, 183, 186.
David, the son of Abraham, Karaite author, 79.
David ben Maimon, brother of Moses, 135.
David Abi Zimra, author of "Responses," 238.
David Alroy, pseudo-Messiah, 203.
David Conforte, historian, 220.
David Gans, historian, 220-221.
David Kimchi, grammarian, 117, 123.
David Reubeni, traveller, 207.
"Deeds of God, The," by Abarbanel, 229.
Descartes, studied by Spinoza, 250.
"Deuteronomy." _See_ "Strong Hand, The."
"Diary of Eldad the Danite," 201-203.
Dictionary, Hebrew rhyming, by Saadiah, 93.
_See also_ Lexicon.
Dioscorides, works of, translated, 150.
Doria, Andrea, doge, physician of, 219.
Dramas in Hebrew, 246-247.
Dunash, the son of Labrat, grammarian, 101, 123.
Duran family, writers of "Responses," 237.
Eben Bochan, by Kalonymos, 185.
Eben ha-Ezer, part of the Shulchan Aruch, 240.
Egypt, Jehuda Halevi in, 129.
Eldad the Danite, traveller, 201-203.
Eleazar of Worms, writer, 191.
Eleazar the Levite, will of, 196-197.
Eleazar, the son of Azariah, saying of, 25-26.
Eleazar, the son of Isaac, will of, 194-195.
Elias del Medigo, critic, 222.
Elias Levita, grammarian, 229.
Elijah Kapsali, historian, 216.
Elisha, the son of Abuya, and Meir, 28.
Emden, Jacob, author of "Responses," 238.
Emek ha-Bacha, by Joseph Cohen, 218, 219.
Emunoth ve-Deoth, by Saadiah, 95.
En Yaakob, by Jacob Ibn Chabib, 192.
Enan, giant in "The Book of Delight," 157-158.
England, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
Jews re-admitted into, 244.
"Ennoblement of Character, The," by Solomon Ibn Gebirol, 110.
Eshkol ha-Kopher, by Judah Hadassi, 80.
Esthori Parchi, explorer of Palestine, 204-205.
Ethical Wills, prevalence and character of, 193-194.
examples of, and quotations from, 194-198.
"Ethics, the," by Spinoza, 251.
Euclid, works of, translated, 149.
Eusebius, used in "Josippon," 214.
"Examination of the World," by Yedaiah Bedaressi, 191-192.
Exilarchs, the, official heads of the Persian Jews, 72.
"Eye of Jacob, The," by Jacob Ibn Chabib, 192.
Ezra, Kabbalist, 171.
Fables. _See_ Beast Fables; Fox Fables.
"Faith and Philosophy," by Saadiah, 95.
Fathers, the Christian, and Simlai, 47.
Fayum, birthplace of Saadiah, 91.
Ferdinand and Isabella, Abarbanel with, 226.
Fez, the Maimon family at, 135.
Fiesco, rebellion of, 217.
Folk-tales, diffusion of, 153.
Fostat, Maimonides at, 135.
"Foundation of the World, The," by Moses Zacut, 246.
"Fountain of Life, The," by Solomon Ibn Gebirol, 110.
"Four Rows, The," code by Jacob Asheri, 234, 239.
"Fox and the Fishes, The," fable, 65.
"Fox as Singer, The," fable, 66.
Fox Fables, by Meir, 64.
by Berachya ha-Nakdan, 156-157.
France, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
a Jewish centre, 116, 119, 124.
Jewish schools of, destroyed, 124.
Fršnkel, teacher of Mendelssohn, 253.
Frederick II, emperor, patron of Anatoli, 149.
Frederick the Great, the Berlin of, 254.
Galen, works of, translated, 150, 185.
Galilee, centre of Jewish learning, 20.
explored by Esthori Parchi, 205.
Gaonim, the, heads of the Babylonian schools, 68.
work of, 68-69.
literary productions of, 69-71.
language used by, 71.
"Letters" of, 71-74.
religious heads of the Jews of Persia, 72.
as writers, 74.
Karaite controversies with, 78.
works of, collected, 104.
analyze the Talmud, 121.
Gedaliah Ibn Yachya, historian, 222-223.
Gemara. _See_ Talmud, the.
Genesis, commentary on, by Saadiah, 94.
Geographical literature among the Jews, 200.
German Jews, stagnation among, 254.
Germany, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
Gersonides. _See_ Levi, the son of Gershon.
"Glory to the Virtuous," by Luzzatto, 247.
Graetz, H., quoted, 21, 168.
Grammar, Hebrew, works on, 77, 79, 117.
Granada, Jewish literary centre, 112.
Greece, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
Greek, translation of the Scriptures, 26.
used by Josephus, 37.
used in the Sibylline books, 39.
used among the Jews, 48.
Grotius, friend of Manasseh ben Israel, 245.
Guarini, influences Luzzatto, 246.
"Guide of the Perplexed, The," by Moses Maimonides, 136, 139-141, 142.
Habus, Samuel Ibn Nagdela minister to, 103.
Hagadah, the poetic element of the Talmud, 47.
Hai, the last Gaon, 71.
Halachah, the legal element of the Talmud, 47, 55.
Halachoth Gedoloth, compilation of Halachic decisions, 73.
Haman, a fable concerning, 66.
Hassan, the son of Mashiach, Karaite author, 78, 79.
"Heart Duties," by Bachya Ibn Pekuda, 190.
Hebrew, the, of the Mishnah, 29.
used by the Gaonim, 71.
the language of prayer, 83.
influenced by Kalir, 88.
translations into, 145, 146.
a living language, 147.
studied by Christians, 230.
Heilprin, Yechiel, historian, 220.
Heine, quoted, 128.
"Hell and Eden," by Immanuel of Rome, 182, 184-185.
"Higher Criticism," the, father of, 116.
Hillel I, parable of, 62.
Hillel II, arranges the Jewish Calendar, 48.
Hippocrates, works of, translated, 150.
Historical works, 33-34.
Historical writing among the Jews, 211-212, 213, 217.
"History of France and Turkey," by Joseph Cohen, 217.
"History of the Jewish Kings," by Justus, 34.
"History of the Ottoman Empire," by Elijah Kapsali, 216.
Holland, a Jewish centre, 243.
Homiletics, in the Midrash, 57.
in Sheeltoth, 70.
"Hope of Israel, The," by Manasseh ben Israel, 208-209, 248.
Hosannas, the Day of, hymn for, 89.
Huet, friend of Manasseh ben Israel, 245.
Huna, Amora, 49-50.
Ibn Roshd. _See_ Averroes.
Icabo, character in Samuel Usque's poem, 218.
Iggaron, dictionary by David, 79.
Ikkarim, by Joseph Albo, 141.
Immanuel, the son of Solomon, Italian Jewish poet, 179, 180.
life of, 180-181.
works of, 182-185.
Isaac the Elder, Tossafist, 161.
Isaac, the son of Asher, Tossafist, 161.
Isaac Abarbanel, in Portugal, 225-226.
writes commentaries, 226, 227.
in Castile, 226.
in Naples and Corfu, 226-227.
in Venice, 227.
as a writer, 227-228.
as an exegete, 228, 229.
as a philosopher, 229.
Isaac Aboab, ethical writer, 192.
Isaac Alfassi, Talmudist, 121-122.
Isaac Lurya, Kabbalist, 176.
Isaac Troki, Karaite author, 81.
Isaiah Hurwitz, Kabbalist, 176.
Isaiah, the Book of, Abraham Ibn Ezra on, 116.
Islam, sects of, 75-76.
Israel Baalshem, Kabbalist, 176-177.
Israel Isserlein, author of "Responses," 237.
"It was at Midnight," by Jannai, 86.
Italian Jewish literature, 178-180, 187.
Italy, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
"Itinera Mundi," by Abraham Farissol, 206.
"Itinerary," by Benjamin of Tudela, 203.
Jabneh. _See_ Jamnia.
Jacob Ibn Chabib, writer, 192.
Jacob Anatoli, translator, 148.
patron and friend of, 149.
Jacob Asheri, compiler of the Turim, 234, 239.
Jacob Weil, author of "Responses," 237.
Jacobs, Mr. Joseph, quoted, 65, 66, 156, 158-159.
Jair Chayim Bacharach, author of "Responses," 238.
Jamnia, centre of Jewish learning, 19-22.
Jannai, originator of the Piyut, 86.
date of, 87.
Japhet, the son of Ali, Karaite author, 78, 79.
Jayme I of Aragon, orders a public disputation, 164.
Jehuda Halevi, models of, 107.
subjects of, 109.
prominence of, 126.
youth of, 126-127.
as a philosopher and physician, 127-128, 139.
longs for Jerusalem, 128.
on his journey, 128-129.
quotation from, 129-130.
works of, translated, 148.
Jerome, under Jewish influence, 48.
"Jerusalem," by Mendelssohn, 256.
"Jewish War, The," by Justus, 34.
"Jews, The," by Lessing, 256.
Jochanan, the son of Napacha, Amora, 46, 47, 51.
Jochanan, the son of Zakkai, characterized, 20-21, 24.
as a Tanna, 23-24.
Jochanan Aleman, Kabbalist, 174.
John of Capua, translator, 155.
Joseph Ibn Caspi, will of, 196.
Joseph Ibn Verga, historian, 218-219.
Joseph al-Bazir, Karaite author, 78, 79.
Joseph Albo, philosopher, 141.
Joseph Cohen, historian, 216-217, 219.
Joseph Delmedigo, on Gedaliah Ibn Yachya, 222.
Joseph Karo, prohibits the Machberoth, 183.
compiler of the Shulchan Aruch, 233.
life of, 238-239.
_See_ Shulchan Aruch, the.
Joseph Kimchi, exegete, 116.
Joseph Zabara, poet, 157-158.
geographical notes by, 200.
Josephus, Flavius, historian, 34-38.
works of, 34.
champion of Judaism, 36, 37-38.
style of, 36-37.
language used by, 37.
used in "Josippon," 214.
Joshua, the son of Levi, Amora, 47.
"Josippon," a romance, 214.
Judah the Prince, a Tanna, 23, 28-29.
Judah Ibn Ezra, anti-Karaite, 214.
Judah Ibn Tibbon as a translator, 146, 147.
as a physician, 146-147.
Judah Ibn Verga, chronicler, 218.
Judah Chayuj, grammarian, 101.
Judah Chassid, ethical writer, 191.
Judah Hadassi, Karaite author, 80-81.
Judah Minz, author of "Responses," 237.
Judah Romano, school-man, 185.
Judaism, after the loss of a national centre, 21.
championed by Josephus, 36, 37-38.
philosophy of, 77.
Justus of Tiberias, historian, works of, 34.
Kabbala, mysticism, 170.
development of, 171.
and Christian scholars, 174.
the later, 175.
Kalila ve-Dimna. _See_ Bidpai, Fables of.
Kalir, new-Hebrew poet, 85, 86, 87.
date of, 87.
style of, 87-88, 107.
subject-matter of, 88-89.
quotation from, 89-90.
Kalirian Piyut, the, 85.
Kalonymos, the son of Kalonymos, translator, 149, 185.
as poet, 179, 180, 185-186.
Kant, and Mendelssohn, 257.
Kaphtor va-Pherach, by Esthori Parchi, 205.
Karaism, rise of, 75-76.
a reaction against tradition, 76.
defect of, 76.
literary influence of, 77.
history of, 80.
Rabbinite opposition to, 82.
opposed by Saadiah, 91, 92.
Kepler, correspondent of David Gans, 220.
Kether Malchuth, by Solomon Ibn Gebirol, 110.
quotation from, 111-112.
Kimchi. _See_ Joseph; Moses; David.
Kirkisani, Karaite author, 80.
Kodashim, order of the Mishnah, 31.
Kore ha-Doroth, by David Conforte, 220.
"Lamp of Light, The," by Isaac Aboab, 192.
Landau, Ezekiel, author of "Responses," 238.
Lavater, and Mendelssohn, 258.
"Law of Man, The," by Nachmanides, 166.
Lecha Dodi, Sabbath hymn, 239.
Lecky, on the scientific activity of the Jews, 150.
Leon da Modena, historian, 220.
Leon, Messer, physician and writer, 187.
Leshon Limmudim, by Sahal, the son of Mazliach, 79.
"Lesser Sanctuary, The," by Moses Rieti, 186.
Lessing, and Mendelssohn, 255-256.
"Letter," by Sherira, 70-71, 212.
"Letter of Advice, The," by Solomon Alami, 197-198.
"Letter of Aristeas," by Azariah di Rossi, 223.
"Letters," the, of the Gaonim, scope of, 71-73.
style of, 74.
geographical notes in, 200.
and the "Responses," 234.
Levi, the son of Gershon, philosopher, 141.
Lexicon, by Sahal, 79.
by David, 79.
by David Kimchi, 117.
Lexicon, Talmudical. _See_ Aruch, 70.
"Light of God, The," by Chasdai Crescas, 141.
"Light of the Eyes, The," by Azariah di Rossi, 220, 223.
Literature, Jewish, oral, 21-22.
principle of, 23-24.
under the influence of Karaism, 77.
_See_ Mishnah, the.
Liturgy, the, earliest additions to, 83.
_See_ Piyut, the.
Lorraine, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
Lost Ten Tribes, book on, 201.
in Brazil, 208.
Lucas, Mrs. Alice, translations by, quoted, 63.
Lucian, used in "Josippon," 214.
Luzzatto, Moses Chayim, Kabbalist and dramatist, 176.
ethical work by, 193.
as dramatist, 246-247.
Lydda, centre of Jewish learning, 20.
Machberoth, by Immanuel of Rome, 182-185.
Maggid, familiar of Joseph Karo, 239.
Maharil, collection of Customs, 238.
Maimonides, Moses, the forerunner of, 95.
youth of, 134-135.
activities of, 135-136.
disinterestedness of, 136.
attacks on, 137, 141.
prominence of, 137-138.
as a philosopher, 138-141, 142, 151.
works of, translated, 148.
and Nachmanides, 163.
studied by Spinoza, 250.
Mainz, Rashi at, 122.
Majorca, the Spanish Piyut in, 85.
Manasseh ben Israel, and the Lost Tribes, 208-209, 243, 247-248.
political activity of, 244, 248.
life of, 244.
attainments and friends of, 245.
activities of, 247.
as a pamphleteer, 248-249.
and Spinoza, 250.
Manetho, historian, and Josephus, 36.
Massechtoth, tractates of the Mishnah, 31.
"Maxims of the Philosophers," by Charizi, 189.
Mebo ha-Talmud, by Samuel Ibn Nagdela, 104.
Mechilta, a Midrashic work, 57.
Megillath Taanith. _See_ "Scroll of Fasting, The."
Meir, a Tanna, 23, 27-28.
fables by, 64.
Meir of Rothenburg, poet, 131, 235-237.
writer of "Responses," 235.
"Memorial Books," historical sources, 216.
Menachem, the son of Zaruk, grammarian, 100, 101, 123.
Mendelssohn, Moses, antagonized by Ezekiel Landau, 238.
life of, 253.
objects to the separation of culture and religion, 254.
service of, to Judaism, 254-255.
and Lessing, 255-256.
style of, 257.
and Lavater, 258.
translates the Pentateuch, 258-259.
circle of, 259.
influence of, 259-260.
Menorath ha-Maor, by Isaac Aboab, 192.
MeŲr Enayim, by Azariah di Rossi, 220.
Meshullam of Lunel, patron of learning, 146, 147.
Messiah, the, Joshua on, 47.
Messilath Yesharim, by Moses Chayim Luzzatto, 193.
Metre, in Hebrew poetry, 84.
Michlol, by David Kimchi, 117.
Midrash, the, characterized, 55-57.
poetical, 56, 57.
popular homiletics, 57.
works called, 57-58.
style of, 58-59.
proverbs in, 59-60.
parables in, 60-64.
beast fables in, 64-67.
and the Piyut, 86, 88-89.
used by Rashi, 123, 124.
Midrash Haggadol, a Midrashic work, 58.
Midrash Rabbah, a Midrashic work, 58.
Mikdash Mešt, by Moses Rieti, 186.
Minhag, established by the Gaonim, 69.
Miphaloth Elohim, by Abarbanel, 229.
Mishnah, a paragraph of the Mishnah, 31.
Mishnah, the, origin of, 22.
principle of, 24.
compiled by Rabbi, 28.
contents and style of, 29-31.
divisions of, 31.
development of, 43. _See_ Talmud, the.
date of, 52.
Sherira on, 70.
Maimon's commentary on, 135.
commentary on, 206.
Mishneh Torah. _See_ "Strong Hand, The."
Moed, order of the Mishnah, 31.
Mohammedanism assumed by the Maimon family, 135.
Moreh Nebuchim. _See_ "Guide of the Perplexed, The."
Moses, teachings of, summarized, 140.
Moses of Leon, author of the Zohar, 172, 173.
Moses, the son of Chanoch, founds a school at Cordova, 97.
Moses, the son of Maimon. _See_ Maimonides, Moses.
Moses Ibn Ezra, and the Scriptures, 107, 109.
life of, 112-113.
quotation from, 113-114.
hymns of, 114.
Charizi on, 114.
Moses Ibn Tibbon, translator, 148.
Moses Alshech, homiletical writer, 230.
Moses Kimchi, grammarian, 117.
Moses Minz, author of "Responses," 237.
Moses Rieti, poet, 186-187.
Mysticism, an element of religion, 169-170.
in Judaism, 170.
Nachmanides, Moses, Talmudist, 160-168.
on the French Rabbis, 160, 162.
as a poet, 162.
gentleness of, 163.
in a disputation, 163-164.
in Palestine, 165.
as an exegete, 165-168.
teacher of, 171.
will of, 195.
Nahum, poet, 109.
"Name of the Great Ones, The," by Chayim Azulai, 220.
Naples, Abarbanel in, 226.
Nashim, order of the Mishnah, 31.
"Nathan the Wise," by Lessing, 256.
Nathan, the son of Yechiel, lexicographer, 121.
Nehardea, centre of Jewish learning, 44.
Nehemiah Chayun, Kabbalist, 176.
New-Hebrew, as a literary language, 83.
New-Hebrew poetry, and the Scriptures, 107.
characteristics of, 108-109.
after Jehuda Halevi, 130-131, 132.
_See also_ Piyut.
Nezikin, order of the Mishnah, 31.
Nicholas, monk, translator, 150.
"Novelties," Notes on the Talmud, 234.
Numeo, character in Samuel Usque's poem, 218.
Obadiah of Bertinoro, Rabbi of Jerusalem, 206.
Omar, forbids Jews to enter Jerusalem, 205.
Onkelos. _See_ Aquila.
Orach Chayim, part of the Shulchan Aruch, 239, 240.
"Order of Generations, The," by Yechiel Heilprin, 220.
"Order of the Tannaim and Amoraim," 212.
Orders of the Mishnah, 31.
Origen, under Jewish influence, 48.
Pablo Christiani, convert, and Nachmanides, 164.
Palestine, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
the Maimon family in, 135.
open to Jews, 205-206.
Parables, in the Midrash, 60-64.
examples of, 62, 63.
Parallelism of line, in the Scriptures, 108.
Passover, hymn for, 86.
"Path of Life, The," part of the Shulchan Aruch, 239, 240.
"Path of the Upright, The," by Moses Chayim Luzzatto, 193.
Penso, Joseph Felix, dramatist, 246.
Pentateuch, the, translated, 27, 247, 258.
as viewed by Meir, 27.
commentary on, 166-168, 230.
_See also_ Scriptures, the.
Perakim, chapters of the Mishnah, 31.
Perez of Corbeil, Tossafist, 161.
"Perfection," by David Kimchi, 117.
Persia, the Jews of, independent, 72.
_See also_ Babylonia.
Pesikta, a Midrashic work, 58.
Petachiah of Ratisbon, traveller, 204.
"Phśdo, or the Immortality of the Soul," by Mendelssohn, 257.
Philo, on Judaism, 38.
Philosophy, Jewish, created by Saadiah, 91, 95.
Pico di Mirandola, and the Kabbala, 174.
Piyut, the, characteristics of, 83-84.
two types of, 84-85.
creator of, 85-86.
by Samuel Ibn Nagdela, 105.
in Italy, 186.
Poetry. _See_ New-Hebrew poetry; Piyut.
Poland, the Kalirian Piyut in, 85.
Porphyry, on the Book of Daniel, 48.
Prayer-Book, the, compiled by Amram, 70.
arranged by Saadiah, 95.
Prester John, Eldad on, 203.
"Prince and Nazirite," by Abraham Ibn Chisdai, 154-155.
Provence, the Spanish Piyut in, 85.
Jewish learning in, 146.
Proverbs, in the Midrash, 59-60.
Psalms, the, and new-Hebrew poetry, 104-105, 108.
mysticism in, 169, 170.
Ptolemy, works of, translated, 149, 185.
Pumbeditha, centre of Jewish learning, 44, 72.
"Purim Tractate, The," by Kalonymos, 185-186.
Pygmies, the, discovered by Tobiah Cohen, 209.
"Questions and Answers," decisions, 73.
Rab. _See_ Abba Areka.
Rabba, the son of Nachmani, Amora, 51.
Rabbi. _See_ Judah the Prince.
Rabbinical schools, in Babylonia, 44.
Rabina, Amora, compiler of the Talmud, 51, 52.
Ralbag. _See_ Levi, the son of Gershon.
Ramban. _See_ Nachmanides, Moses.
Rashbam. _See_ Samuel ben Meir.
Rashi (R. Shelomo Izchaki), importance of, 119.
style of, 119-120.
characteristics of, 120-121.
life of, 122.
as an exegete, 123-124.
descendants of, 124, 161.
Rava, Amora, 51.
Rembrandt, friend of Manasseh ben Israel, 245.
Renaissance, the, and Italian Jewish literature, 178, 182, 184, 187.
Renan, on the students of Averroes, 148.
"Responses," on religious subjects, 234-235, 237-238.
Reuchlin, Johann, and the Kabbala, 174.
Rhyme, in Hebrew poetry, 84.
"Rod of Judah, The," by the Ibn Vergas, 218-219.
Rokeach, by Eleazar of Worms, 191.
"Royal Crown, The," by Solomon Ibn Gebirol, 110.
quotation from, 111-112.
Saadiah, Gaon, 70, 91-97.
activities of, 91, 95.
opposes Karaism, 92, 94.
translates the Scriptures, 93, 94.
style of, 93.
conflict of, with the Exilarch, 95.
arranges a prayer-book, 95.
as a philosopher, 95-96, 139.
works of, translated, 148.
Sabbatai Zevi, and the Kabbala, 175.
opponents of, 238.
"Sacred Letter, The," by Nachmanides, 165.
Safed, Kabbalist centre, 175.
Sahal, the son of Mazliach, 77-78.
Salman, the son of Yerucham, Karaite author, 78.
Salonica, Kabbalist centre, 175.
"Salvation of his Anointed," by Abarbanel, 229.
"Samson," by Luzzatto, 246.
Samuel, Amora, 47-48, 51.
Samuel, the son of Chofni, Gaon and author, 71.
Samuel ben Meir, exegete, 124.
Samuel Ibn Nagdela, Nagid and minister, 103.
as a scholar, 104.
as a poet, 104-105.
Samuel Ibn Tibbon, translator, 147, 148.
son-in-law of, 148.
Samuel Usque, poet, 217-218.
Scientific activity of the Jews, 151.
Scot, Michael, friend of Anatoli, 149, 151.
Scriptures, the, translated into Greek, 26.
commentaries on, 77, 79, 123, 229.
translated into Arabic, 91, 93, 94.
translations of, in the synagogues, 94.
and new-Hebrew poetry, 107-108.
characteristics of the poetry of, 108.
addresses of parents to children in, 194.
_See also_ Pentateuch, the.
"Scroll of Fasting, The," contents, character, and purpose of, 40-41.
Sedarim, order of the Mishnah, 31.
Seder ha-Doroth, by Yechiel Heilprin, 220.
Sefer Dikduk, by Sahal, the son of Mazliach, 79.
Sefer ha-Chassidim, ethical work, 191.
Sefer ha-Galui, by Saadiah, 93.
Sefer ha-Kabbalah, by Abraham Ibn Daud, 213-214.
Sefer Yetsirah, by Saadiah, 95.
Seleucid era, the, abolished, 238.
Selichoth, elegies, Zunz on, 215-216.
Sepphoris, centre of Jewish learning, 20.
Septuagint, the, style of, 26.
Seville, Jewish literary centre, 112.
Shaaloth u-Teshuboth, decisions, 73.
Shalsheleth ha-Kabbalah, by Gedaliah Ibn Yachya, 220.
Shebet Jehudah, by the Ibn Vergas, 218-219.
Sheeltoth, by Achai, 69-70.
Sheloh, by Isaiah Hurwitz, 176.
Shelomo Izchaki. _See_ Rashi.
Sherira, Gaon and historian, 70-71.
Sheshet family, writers of "Responses," 237.
"Shields of the Mighty, The," by Abraham de Porta Leone, 220.
Shiites, the, Mohammedan sect, 75.
Shilte ha-Gibborim, by Abraham de Porta Leone, 220.
Shulchan Aruch, the, publication of, 232.
scope of, 232-233.
sources of, 233-234.
parts of, 239-240.
value of, 241.
Sibylline books, the Jewish, 38-40.
on the Jewish religion, 38-39.
language of, 39.
quotations from, 39, 40.
Siddur, the, compiled by Amram, 70.
Sifra, a Midrashic work, 57.
Sifre, a Midrashic work, 57.
Simlai, Amora, 47, 48.
Simon, the son of Lakish, Amora, 46.
Simon, the son of Yochai, alleged author of the Zohar, 172.
Solomon, the son of Adereth, writer of "Responses," 235.
Solomon Ibn Gebirol, and the Scriptures, 107.
subjects of, 109.
life of, 109-110.
works of, 110.
quotations from, 111-112.
works of, translated, 148.
Solomon Ibn Verga, chronicler, 218.
Solomon Alami, ethical writer, 197-198.
Solomon Alkabets, poet, 239.
Solomon Molcho, and the Kabbala, 175, 207.
Song of Songs, the, and new-Hebrew poetry, 107.
Spain, Moorish, the centre of Jewish learning, 96-97.
Spanish-Jewish poetry. _See_ New-Hebrew poetry.
Spanish Piyut, the, 85.
Speyer, Rashi at, 122.
Spinoza, Baruch, influenced by Chasdai Crescas, 141.
philosopher, 243, 244, 249-251.
life of, 250-251.
works of, 251.
Steinschneider, Dr., on Jewish translators, 144.
"Stone of Help, The," part of the Shulchan Aruch, 240.
Strabo, used in "Josippon," 214.
"Strengthening of Faith, The," by Isaac Troki, 81.
"Strong Hand, The," by Moses Maimonides, 136-137, 139, 232.
"Strong Tower, The," by Luzzatto, 246.
Sunnites, the, Mohammedan sect, 75.
Sura, centre of Jewish learning, 44, 72.
Saadiah at, 91, 96.
Synhedrion, the, at Jamnia, 19-20.
"Table Prepared." _See_ Shulchan Aruch, the.
Tables of Alfonso, in Hebrew, 221.
Tachkemoni, by Charizi, 131-132, 183.
Talmud, the, commentary on the Mishnah, 43.
language of, 44.
two works, 44.
the teachers of, 44.
character of, 45, 50, 53.
the two aspects of, 47.
and Rab and Samuel, 47-48, 51.
influences traceable in, 50-51.
compilation of, 51-52.
beast fables in, 64-67.
lexicon of, 70.
and the Piyut, 86.
commentary on, by Rashi, 120.
geographical notes in, 200.
Notes on, 234.
Talmud, the Babylonian, 44.
the larger work, 44.
Talmud, the Jerusalem, 44.
Tam of Rameru, Tossafist, 161.
Tanchuma, a Midrashic work, 58.
Tannaim, the, teachers of the Mishnah, 22.
four generations of, 23.
Targum Onkelos, Aramaic translation of the Pentateuch, 27.
Tarshish, by Moses Ibn Ezra, 114.
"Teacher of Knowledge, The," part of the Shulchan Aruch, 239-240.
Teharoth, order of the Mishnah, 31.
Teshuboth. _See_ "Letters," the; "Responses," the.
"Theologico-Political Tractate," by Spinoza, 244, 251.
Tiberias, centre of Jewish learning, 20.
Todros Abulafia, Kabbalist, 171.
Toledo, Jewish literary centre, 112.
cosmopolitanism of, 126.
"Topaz, The," by Moses Ibn Ezra, 114.
Torah, the. _See_ Pentateuch, the.
Tossafists, the, French Talmudists, 160-161.
Tossafoth, Additions, 161.
"Touchstone, The," by Kalonymos, 185.
Tractates of the Mishnah, 31.
Tradition, the Jewish, investigated at Jamnia, 21.
Sherira on, 70.
reaction against, 76.
_See_ Mishnah, the.
Translations, value of, 144.
made by Jews, 144-145, 146, 149-151, 153-154, 155-156.
"Travels," by Petachiah of Ratisbon, 204.
Troyes, Rashi at, 122.
"Two Tables of the Covenant, The," by Isaiah Hurwitz, 176.
Tyre, Jehuda Halevi in, 129.
Usha, centre of Jewish learning, 20.
"Valley of Tears, The," by Joseph Cohen, 218, 219.
Venice, Abarbanel in, 227.
Vindiciś Judeorum, by Manasseh ben Israel, 244, 249, 258.
"Vineyard," the. _See_ Jamnia.
Vossius, friend of Manasseh ben Israel, 245.
"Wars of the Jews, The," by Josephus, 34.
the language of, 37.
"Wars of the Lord, The," by Gersonides, 141.
"Wars of the Lord, The," by Salman, the son of Yerucham, 78.
Wessely, N.H., pedagogue, 210.
"Wolf and the two Hounds, The," fable, 65.
"Wolf at the Well, The," fable, 65.
"Work of Tobiah, The," by Tobiah Cohen, 209.
Worms, Rashi at, 122.
Yad Hachazaka. _See_ "Strong Hand, The."
Yalkut, collected Midrashim, 58.
Yedaiah Bedaressi, writer, 191-192.
Yeshuoth Meshicho, by Abarbanel, 229.
Yoreh Deah, part of the Shulchan Aruch, 240.
Yuchasin, by Abraham Zacuto, 216.
Zabara, satirist, 127.
Zacut, Moses, dramatist, 246.
ZeŽna u-ReŽna, homiletical work, 230.
Zeira, Amora, 46.
Zemach, the son of Paltoi, Gaon and lexicographer, 70.
Zemach David, by David Gans, 220-221.
Zeraim, order of the Mishnah, 31.
Zevaoth. _See_ Ethical Wills.
Zicareo, character in Samuel Usque's poem, 218.
Zion, odes to, by Jehuda Halevi, 109, 129-130.
Zohar, the, Kabbalistic work, 172-174.
style and language of, 172-173.
contents of, 173-174.
Christian ideas in, 174.
importance of, 175.
End of Project Gutenberg's Chapters on Jewish Literature, by Israel Abrahams
*** END OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK CHAPTERS ON JEWISH LITERATURE ***
***** This file should be named 13678-8.txt or 13678-8.zip *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, J. Howse and the Online Distributed
Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions
will be renamed.
Creating the works from public domain print editions means that no
one owns a United States copyright in these works, so the Foundation
(and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United States without
permission and without paying copyright royalties. Special rules,
copying and distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works to
protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm concept and trademark. Project
Gutenberg is a registered trademark, and may not be used if you
charge for the eBooks, unless you receive specific permission. If you
do not charge anything for copies of this eBook, complying with the
rules is very easy. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose
such as creation of derivative works, reports, performances and
research. They may be modified and printed and given away--you may do
practically ANYTHING with public domain eBooks. Redistribution is
subject to the trademark license, especially commercial
*** START: FULL LICENSE ***
THE FULL PROJECT GUTENBERG LICENSE
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU DISTRIBUTE OR USE THIS WORK
To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full Project
Gutenberg-tm License (available with this file or online at
1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or destroy
all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your possession.
If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound by the
terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the person or
entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph 1.E.8.
1.B. "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark. It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement. There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement. See
paragraph 1.C below. There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this agreement
and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works. See paragraph 1.E below.
1.C. The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the Foundation"
or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection of Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works. Nearly all the individual works in the
collection are in the public domain in the United States. If an
individual work is in the public domain in the United States and you are
located in the United States, we do not claim a right to prevent you from
copying, distributing, performing, displaying or creating derivative
works based on the work as long as all references to Project Gutenberg
are removed. Of course, we hope that you will support the Project
Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting free access to electronic works by
freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm works in compliance with the terms of
this agreement for keeping the Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with
the work. You can easily comply with the terms of this agreement by
keeping this work in the same format with its attached full Project
Gutenberg-tm License when you share it without charge with others.
1.D. The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work. Copyright laws in most countries are in
a constant state of change. If you are outside the United States, check
the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this agreement
before downloading, copying, displaying, performing, distributing or
creating derivative works based on this work or any other Project
Gutenberg-tm work. The Foundation makes no representations concerning
the copyright status of any work in any country outside the United
1.E. Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:
1.E.1. The following sentence, with active links to, or other immediate
access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear prominently
whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work on which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed, performed, viewed,
copied or distributed:
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
1.E.2. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is derived
from the public domain (does not contain a notice indicating that it is
posted with permission of the copyright holder), the work can be copied
and distributed to anyone in the United States without paying any fees
or charges. If you are redistributing or providing access to a work
with the phrase "Project Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the
work, you must comply either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1
through 1.E.7 or obtain permission for the use of the work and the
Project Gutenberg-tm trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or
1.E.3. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any additional
terms imposed by the copyright holder. Additional terms will be linked
to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works posted with the
permission of the copyright holder found at the beginning of this work.
1.E.4. Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.
1.E.5. Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
1.E.6. You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including any
word processing or hypertext form. However, if you provide access to or
distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format other than
"Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official version
posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site (www.gutenberg.net),
you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense to the user, provide a
copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means of obtaining a copy upon
request, of the work in its original "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other
form. Any alternate format must include the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.
1.E.7. Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.
1.E.8. You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works provided
- You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
you already use to calculate your applicable taxes. The fee is
owed to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he
has agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the
Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Royalty payments
must be paid within 60 days following each date on which you
prepare (or are legally required to prepare) your periodic tax
returns. Royalty payments should be clearly marked as such and
sent to the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the
address specified in Section 4, "Information about donations to
the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation."
- You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License. You must require such a user to return or
destroy all copies of the works possessed in a physical medium
and discontinue all use of and all access to other copies of
Project Gutenberg-tm works.
- You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of any
money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days
of receipt of the work.
- You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.
1.E.9. If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work or group of works on different terms than are set
forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing from
both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and Michael
Hart, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark. Contact the
Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.
1.F.1. Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
public domain works in creating the Project Gutenberg-tm
collection. Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may contain
"Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate or
corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other intellectual
property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or other medium, a
computer virus, or computer codes that damage or cannot be read by
1.F.2. LIMITED WARRANTY, DISCLAIMER OF DAMAGES - Except for the "Right
of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal
fees. YOU AGREE THAT YOU HAVE NO REMEDIES FOR NEGLIGENCE, STRICT
LIABILITY, BREACH OF WARRANTY OR BREACH OF CONTRACT EXCEPT THOSE
PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH F3. YOU AGREE THAT THE FOUNDATION, THE
TRADEMARK OWNER, AND ANY DISTRIBUTOR UNDER THIS AGREEMENT WILL NOT BE
LIABLE TO YOU FOR ACTUAL, DIRECT, INDIRECT, CONSEQUENTIAL, PUNITIVE OR
INCIDENTAL DAMAGES EVEN IF YOU GIVE NOTICE OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH
1.F.3. LIMITED RIGHT OF REPLACEMENT OR REFUND - If you discover a
defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from. If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium with
your written explanation. The person or entity that provided you with
the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in lieu of a
refund. If you received the work electronically, the person or entity
providing it to you may choose to give you a second opportunity to
receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund. If the second copy
is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing without further
opportunities to fix the problem.
1.F.4. Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS' WITH NO OTHER
WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO
WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PURPOSE.
1.F.5. Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of damages.
If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement violates the
law of the state applicable to this agreement, the agreement shall be
interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or limitation permitted by
the applicable state law. The invalidity or unenforceability of any
provision of this agreement shall not void the remaining provisions.
1.F.6. INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in accordance
with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the production,
promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works,
harmless from all liability, costs and expenses, including legal fees,
that arise directly or indirectly from any of the following which you do
or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this or any Project Gutenberg-tm
work, (b) alteration, modification, or additions or deletions to any
Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any Defect you cause.
Section 2. Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm
Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of computers
including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers. It exists
because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations from
people in all walks of life.
Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need, is critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come. In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future generations.
To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation
and how your efforts and donations can help, see Sections 3 and 4
and the Foundation web page at http://www.pglaf.org.
Section 3. Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive
The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service. The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541. Its 501(c)(3) letter is posted at
http://pglaf.org/fundraising. Contributions to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent
permitted by U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.
The Foundation's principal office is located at 4557 Melan Dr. S.
Fairbanks, AK, 99712., but its volunteers and employees are scattered
throughout numerous locations. Its business office is located at
809 North 1500 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887, email
firstname.lastname@example.org. Email contact links and up to date contact
information can be found at the Foundation's web site and official
page at http://pglaf.org
For additional contact information:
Dr. Gregory B. Newby
Chief Executive and Director
Section 4. Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation
Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment. Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.
The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States. Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements. We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance. To
SEND DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any
particular state visit http://pglaf.org
While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.
International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States. U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.
Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses. Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including including checks, online payments and credit card
donations. To donate, please visit: http://pglaf.org/donate
Section 5. General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic
Professor Michael S. Hart is the originator of the Project Gutenberg-tm
concept of a library of electronic works that could be freely shared
with anyone. For thirty years, he produced and distributed Project
Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of volunteer support.
Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as Public Domain in the U.S.
unless a copyright notice is included. Thus, we do not necessarily
keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper edition.
Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search facility:
This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.